Flu season is upon us and we are answering some of the commonly asked questions about the flu shot.
Who should get a flu shot?
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Flu vaccination has important benefits: It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
Where can I get the flu shot?
In Thunder Bay, students (including international students), staff and faculty can get a flu shot at Student Health and Wellness. Call 807-343-8361 to book an appointment.
In Orillia, anyone can get the flu shot at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit at the Common Roof located at 169 Front St S. Appointments are necessary. Call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 to book.
In Ontario, people with provincial health cards are able to get the vaccines from pharmacies, family doctors and public health clinics.
International students or people without health cards
In Thunder Bay
Flu shots will be available from Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Superior EMS or Shoppers Drug Marts.
The Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit will be offering clinics. These are set to begin in November. Appointments are necessary. Call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 to book.
The Bell Farm Road clinic will provide vaccinations but will be by appointment only. CALL TELE-CLINIC 705-722-1199.
I’ve never gotten a flu shot before, why should I get it this year?
The flu can take its toll on our health-care system in any given year, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is a risk that hospitals and health-care facilities could become overwhelmed if they need to treat both flu and COVID-19 patients. Getting a flu shot could also help reduce "unnecessary testing" for COVID-19 because several symptoms of both illnesses are similar. So it's vital that people do what they can to reduce their chances of getting it.
The last time I got a flu shot, I got sick.
Flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu shots are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. There are several reasons why someone might get flu symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated against the flu.
Some people can become ill from other respiratory viruses besides flu such as rhinoviruses, which are associated with the common cold, cause symptoms similar to flu, and also spread and cause illness during the flu season. The flu vaccine only protects against the flu, not other illnesses.
While you do start to develop antibodies right away, it takes the body two weeks after the flu shot to develop full immune protection. It is possible that a person might have been exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during that two week period and that this exposure might have resulted in developing the flu before protection takes effect. That’s why it is important to get your flu shot early on.
Some people may experience flu symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a flu virus that is very different from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity or “match” between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those spreading and causing illness. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people
The final explanation for experiencing flu symptoms after vaccination is that flu vaccines vary in how well they work and some people who get vaccinated still get sick. When that happens though, vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in those people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
How else can I prevent the spread of the flu?
In addition to getting the flu shot, people can adopt some simple practices (that might sound very familiar) to keep yourself and others healthy:
Covering coughs and sneezes
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Wash your hands often
Stay home if you are feeling unwell
Practice other healthy habits
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Get plenty of sleep.
Eat well, with lots of vegetables and fruits.
Drink lots of fluids.
Manage your stress.