FluWatchers: Who are we?

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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Published: 2023-10-31

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Detecting outbreaks in Canada, everywhere and earlier

  • FluWatch is Canada’s flu surveillance program, which monitors the spread of the seasonal flu across the country. One component of FluWatch is FluWatchers, a surveillance program that monitors flu-like symptoms in communities across Canada to detect unusual levels of illness at any given time or place.   
  • FluWatchers are valuable volunteers in Canada who contribute to Canada’s flu surveillance program by anonymously reporting symptoms on a weekly basis. FluWatchers add value to traditional surveillance systems by capturing data from sick individuals who don’t seek medical care. FluWatchers can improve signal detection and serve as an early warning system for unusual activity.   

Anonymity and Efficiency

  • FluWatchers only collects the minimum required information to administer the program for public health surveillance. Specifically, participants’ email, year of birth, and first three digits of their postal code. This data is safeguarded by the Canadian Network for Public Health Intelligence system and protected under the Privacy Act.   
  • The weekly questionnaire collects flu and COVID-19 data, and typically takes less than 15 seconds to complete. 

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