A new vaccine is administered each year based on the circulating strains of the virus during the winter. This year, the vaccine contains three strains of the flu virus: two type A strains and one type B. This seasonal-flu includes the influenza A(H1N1) strain, responsible for the pandemic occurred in 2009.
The vaccine is safe and does not contain any live virus. As a result, it cannot transmit the disease. Vaccination cannot protect you, however, against more mundane infections such as colds, which are often mistaken for the flu. .
Flu shots are especially important for:
- People at high risk
- Adults and children with chronic health conditions
- People with morbid obesity
- People who are residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
- People > 65 years of age
- Children 6 to 59 months of age
- Healthy pregnant women
- Aboriginal peoples
- People capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk
- People who provide essential community services
- People in direct contact during culling operations involving poultry infected with avian influenza.
You can protect yourself and those around you from influenza. Annual immunization is the safest and most effective way to prevent infection, to reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do get sick, and to keep from spreading the virus to others.
Where to Get Vaccinated:
For more information about the seasonal-flu vaccination procedure, consult the website of your Agence de la santé et des services sociaux.
If your region doesn’t appear in this list, contact your regional local Centre de santé et des services sociaux (CSSS). Consult the directory of Centres de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS) websites.
Listent to the Podcasts
1) Flu shots – Dr. Brian Ward, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the MUHC and Associate Director of the McGill Centre for Tropical Diseases, weighs the pros and cons of getting a flu shot.
Flu fact and fiction
(Courtesy of the Public Health Agency of Canada)
Fiction: Influenza is not a serious problem.
Fact: Influenza is a highly contagious virus that infects millions of Canadians every year. While most recover in about a week, up to 8,000 people, most of them young children and seniors, will die due to flu-related complications like pneumonia.
Fiction: The flu vaccine can give me the flu.
Fact: The flu vaccine cannot cause influenza because it does not contain any live virus. Flu vaccines only contain parts of the more common strands of flu viruses in order to prompt your immune system to create the right antibodies to fight off the real virus.
Mild side-effects can occur but rarely last more than 48 hours. Severe allergic reactions are possible but occur less than once in every million vaccinations in Canada and are treatable.
Fiction: I got the flu shot last year so I'm still protected.
Fact: It is necessary to be immunized each fall to make sure your body forms antibodies against the most common strains of flu viruses circulating that year. Because the flu viruses are capable of changing from year to year, the vaccine is updated annually.
Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) identifies three strains of the influenza virus that are predicted to be the most common and therefore will have the most impact on our health. Influenza vaccines are then developed based on these three viruses.
Fiction: I don't need the flu shot because I never get sick.
Fact: You may not be at risk of a serious illness but those around you may be more vulnerable. Even mild symptoms of influenza mean that you could be carrying it into the lives of your family, friends, coworkers and many others that you come in contact with during the day.
By getting immunized every fall, you will develop the antibodies to break down the flu virus in your system, lower your risk of catching the virus, reduce the severity of symptoms and avoid spreading the infection to those who are more vulnerable.
Fiction: The flu shot doesn't work.
Fact: Immunization is the most effective means to reduce the impact of influenza.
As with any vaccine, the flu shot may not protect 100% of all susceptible individuals. However, with a good match to circulating strains, influenza vaccination prevents illness in approximately 70-90% of healthy children and adults.
You might still get influenza, but vaccinated people usually experience only mild symptoms. You could still get another strain of influenza that the vaccine was not designed to protect against.
Fiction: Immunizations do my children more harm than good.
Fact: The benefits of flu shots far outweigh the risks. Flu shots are especially important for children ages 6 to 23 months, who without immunization could be susceptible to serious flu complications. Flu vaccines do not contain live influenza virus and will not infect your children with the flu.