What is the flu shot and why should you get it?
Each fall in Canada, many Canadians head for doctor’s offices and pharmacies to get their annual flu shot. This year, health officials in Canada are urging more Canadians to get the flu shot to help avoid a “twindemic” in which our health care system becomes overwhelmed by seasonal influenza and COVID-19 patients at the same time.1
What is the flu shot and how does it work?
The flu shot is a yearly vaccine which helps protect you against seasonal influenza. What is in each year’s vaccine is based on predictive research suggesting which influenza strains are most likely to be active.2
Benefits of getting the flu shot
- Flu prevention. The seasonal flu causes thousands of hospitalizations and even some deaths annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu shot is the most effective way to help prevent yourself from getting sick with the flu.3
- Feeling less sick. If you received the flu shot and still became ill, your symptoms will probably be milder as a result.4
- Less severe complications. The flu shot reduces hospitalizations and severe symptoms in groups including older adults, people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women and children.5
- Community protection. When you and your family are immunized, you help to prevent others from getting sick, including babies under 6 months. This is what’s called herd immunity.6
- Decreased burden on the health care system. Flu takes a toll on our health care system, so being immunized can help prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed during the pandemic.7
Fast facts on the flu shot
(Try saying that quickly!)
Where can you get your shot?
About 35% of flu vaccinations in Canada are administered by appointment at pharmacies. This year for the first time, pharmacists will also be able to administer the higher-dose vaccine for seniors. You may also get vaccinated at your doctor’s office.9
When can you get it?
Flu shots are timed to be available from September to October, to coincide with peak influenza season in January.10
Is it safe for children?
Yes, the CDC recommends that children over 6 months receive the seasonal flu shot.11
By getting the flu shot, you can help protect yourself, your family and your community, and help support a health care system dealing with COVID-19.
1, 7, 8, 9, 10 CBC, Getting a flu shot during the COVID-19 era: Here’s what you need to know, 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/flu-vaccine-covid-19-twindemic-what-you-need-to-know-1.5709559
2 CDC, Seasonal Flu Shot, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm
3, 4, 5, 6, 11 Healthline, What Are the Pros and Cons of the Flu Shot?, 2020 https://www.healthline.com/health/flu-shot-pros-and-cons