Seasonal Immunizations: Flu Shot

Everyone is vulnerable to influenza (the flu). The flu shot is free, and available to anyone 6 months of age and older who lives, works, or goes to school in Ontario. The flu shot is your best defense against the flu.  Vaccination against influenza will be important this fall given the potential for the co-circulation of other respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19. Preventing the flu will be important not only to protect individual health and the health of families and communities, but also to protect and mitigate impacts on our health care system.

The flu shot is available for high-risk groups (as per below) at the beginning of October and available to the general public by the beginning of November each year. You can get a flu shot through your family doctor, local participating pharmacies, or co-administered at a Brant County Health Unit Covid-19 Immunization Clinic 

High-Risk Groups

Per the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendations for influenza and to optimize co-administration with COVID-19 vaccine, health care workers, first responders, and the following individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications or who are more likely to require hospitalization, should be prioritized to receive the influenza vaccine as soon as vaccine is available:

  • Residents and staff of congregate living settings (e.g. chronic care facilities, retirement homes)
  • People > 65 years of age
  • All pregnant individuals
  • All children 6 months to 4 years of age
  • Individuals who are from a First Nation, Inuit or Métis community, and/or who self-identify as First Nation, Inuit or Métis, and their household members
  • Members of racialized and other equity deserving communities
  • Individuals 6 months of age and older with the following underlying health conditions:
    • Cardiac or pulmonary disorders
    • Diabetes mellitus or other metabolic disease
    • Cancer
    • Conditions or medication which compromise the immune system
    • Renal disease
    • Anemia or hemoglobinopathy
    • Neurologic or neurodevelopment conditions
    • Morbid obesity (body mass index of >40)
    • Children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years) undergoing treatment with acetylsalicylic acid for long periods

Check out the following resources to learn more about the flu, the flu vaccine and how to best protect yourself and your family from the infection.

  • Influenza is a virus that affects the lungs and can cause serious illness, especially in young children and the elderly. It is NOT the common cold.
  • Influenza is among the top ten leading causes of death in Canada.
  • Influenza is easily spread through the air by coughing, sneezing and/or talking, or by touching contaminated surfaces/objects (phones, doorknobs, tablets, etc.).
  • Symptoms of influenza include sudden high fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.
  • The influenza vaccine (flu shot) is the best way to protect yourself and prevent the spread of influenza.
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue (tiredness
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Influenza spreads through the air by coughing, sneezing and/or talking, or by touching objects used by an infected person (Example: Door handles, toys, tablets, phones)

  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing and do not share food, drinks or eating utensils with others.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after coughing, sneezing, wiping a nose, eating or before preparing food.
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well and keep your child at home if they are not feeling well. Children with Influenza may return to school 5-7 days from the start of symptoms.
  • If your child has a fever greater than 39°C or if symptoms worsen or continue to persist, contact your doctor

There is an influenza vaccine that can help prevent you from getting the virus. The flu shot is safe and is the best way to prevent the flu.

Who should get the flu shot:

  • Everyone, six months of age or older, should get a flu shot each year. Even healthy people can spread the flu virus if they are not vaccinated.
  • Children under nine years of age who have never had a flu shot need two doses given four weeks apart. If your child is over nine years of age, or has had a flu shot in the past, only one dose is required.
  • As per the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), individuals in the following groups are particularly recommended to receive the flu shot:

Who should NOT get the flu shot:

  • People who have had a serious reaction to a flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine.
  • People with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (muscle pain and weakness, or loss of muscle function) within six weeks of a previous dose of flu vaccine.
  • People with a history of Oculo-respiratory syndrome with lower respiratory symptoms (wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, throat constriction or difficulty swallowing) within 24 hours of a previous dose of flu vaccine should speak with their doctor before getting the flu shot.

Note: People who have a serious illness should wait until they are better before getting the vaccine. People who have a mild illness can get the vaccine, even if they have a fever or are on antibiotics.

  • The flu shot is a safe and effective way to protect yourself and others against the flu.
  • You can NOT get the flu from the flu shot.
  • As with all medicines, side effects may occur with vaccination, although mild, and include the following:
    • Arm soreness, redness or swelling at needle site
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Tiredness
  • Serious reactions after the flu vaccine are very rare. Get immediate medical help if you/your child have any unusual symptoms such as:
    • Swelling in your face, mouth, or throat, and/or hives
    • Trouble breathing, hoarseness or wheezing
    • Fever above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit)
    • Convulsions or seizures
    • Other serious reactions to the vaccine

Note: You know best. If you notice anything that is not normal after a vaccine, check with your healthcare provider.

The influenza vaccine is highly recommended. Choosing not to be immunized or delaying immunization puts you at risk of getting sick with the flu or experiencing serious complications from the flu.

With the co-circulation of COVID-19 and Influenza, it is more important than ever to get your flu shot for the following reasons:

  • Individual protection against the flu
  • Decreased burden on the healthcare system
  • Decreased illness that could be confused with COVID-19 and decreased need for COVID-19 testing
  • Decreased chance of co-infection in individuals (influenza and COVID-19) and outbreaks with both viruses