The Flu Shot

It’s important to get your annual flu shot. The best time is in the fall before the flu starts spreading. However, you can get the vaccine later if you miss out this fall.

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It is offered every year to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications. 

Who should get the flu shot and why?

Health Canada recommends everyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot. The flu shot is your best defence against the flu and can save lives by:

  • protecting you, if you are exposed to the virus
  • preventing you from getting sick
  • protecting the people close to you
    • because you are less likely to spread the virus
    • who are at higher risk of serious flu complications if they get the flu
  • reducing additional burden on the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic

NOTE: The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu nor will it trigger a flare. None of the flu vaccines contain live viruses so they cannot cause the flu. If you are unwell after vaccination, you may have contracted something else or you may have caught the flu before your vaccination started to work.

The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups of people who are at high risk of experiencing complications from the flu.

  • People with health conditions, such as:
    • cancer and other immune compromising conditions
    • diabetes
    • heart disease
    • lung disease
    • anemia
    • obesity
    • kidney disease
    • neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
    • children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
  • people 65 years and older
  • people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • children under 5 years of age
  • pregnant people or those planning to get pregnant
  • people who experience barriers in accessing health care
  • people who are at an increased risk of disease because of living
  • conditions, such as overcrowding

    There are groups of people who can pass on the flu virus to those at high risk who should be vaccinated including:
  • caregivers
  • child-care providers
  • health care providers
  • first responders
  • family and other household members
  • those who provide services in closed or relatively closed settings to people at high risk, such as workers in long-term care facilities or crew on a ship

How often do I need to get the shot?

People need to get a flu shot every year and ideally in the fall before the flu starts spreading. However, you can get the vaccine later in the season.

New flu vaccines are created every year to protect people during the flu season and therefore It is important that you get a new flu shot every year because:

  • the type of flu virus usually changes from year to year
  • effectiveness of the flu shot can wear off, so you need a new one every year to stay protected

How effective is the flu vaccination?

The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on how well the vaccine matches with the circulating flu viruses, as well as the health and age of the person getting the flu shot. However, it gives the best protections against the flu.

The viruses circulating in the population can sometimes change during the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens during the flu season, the flu shot may not work as well as expected.

It is also important to remember that the flu shot protects against several different flu viruses each season. Even when there is a less-than-ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the seasonal flu shot can still provide protection against the remaining two or three viruses. If you do get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of flu-related complications.

Getting your flu shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself and others against the flu and flu-related complications.

Is the flu vaccination safe? 

The vaccination is safe for people with auto inflammatory conditions regardless of people being on biologics or not. Additionally: 

  • you cannot get the flu from the flu shot
  • the flu shot will not cause a flare
  • most people have no side effects from the flu shot
  • severe reactions are very rare

What will the 2020-2021 flu vaccine protect against? 

There are two doses available – a regular dose and a high dose. At the moment, the high dose is recommended for patient > 65 year of age.The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. This means that the flu shot will not protect you against COVID-19

Where to get the vaccine? 

Due to Covid-19, you will likely need to make an appointment depending where you live. If you are a front-line worker, your employer may offer it. 

The vaccine is available from your doctor or nurse practitioner, and at participating pharmacies and local public health units across the province, Click here for provincial  information and tips prepared by Health Canada 



Other tips to avoid getting – and spreading – the flu

washing hands under a tap with bubbles

Wash your hands often

  • even after getting the flu shot, washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds helps keep the virus from spreading
  • if soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) with at least 60% alcohol
person coughing into their sleeve

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

  • use a tissue and throw it out rather than putting it in your pocket, on a desk or table
  • if you don’t have a tissue, cough into your upper sleeve
keep your hands out of eyes, nose and mouth

Don’t touch your face

  • the flu virus spreads when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk and droplets enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth
avoid crowds and your workplace

Stay at home when you’re sick

  • viruses spread more easily in group settings, such as businesses, schools and nursing homes
wiping down a surface

Clean (and disinfect) surfaces and shared items

  • viruses can live for 24 to 48 hours on hard surfaces such as countertops, door handles, computer keyboards and phones