Flu Shots (Influenza)

What does the flu shot protect agains?

The flu shot, or influenza inoculation, is a seasonal vaccine. Research is done annually to indicate which viruses will be most common in the following "flu season".

What is influenza?

Influenza is an infection caused by a virus. It mostly affects the respiratory system which, when infected, causes fever, dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections, and severe full body aches and pains. Children with existing medical conditions like asthma are at greater risk of incurring sever complications from flu symptoms. In rare cases, influenza can cause death. The flu is highly contagious and often occurs in epidemics.

How does the flu spread?

The flu can be spread very easily. Droplets caused by coughing or sneezing contain the virus and cause another person to contract the flu. Influenza can also be spread through direct contact like kissing, or even by shaking hands and touching your eyes, nose, or mouth afterwards.

How safe is the flu shot?

The flu shot is very safe and has been submitted to thorough clinical trials. It is a myth that the flu shot causes the flu. The flu virus is so prevalent at certain times of year, often your body is fighting the virus before symptoms appear but becomes more noticeable after having received the shot; this is purely coincidence.

How effective is the flu shot?

The flu shot is very effective and is the single best way to protect against the flu virus. It takes approximately 2 weeks for antibodies to fully develop and provide protection from this virus. Flu season can begin as early as October; it is important to have your child vaccinated early in the season for most effective protection.

Why is this vaccine important?

This vaccine is important due to the highly contagious nature of the flu virus. Vulnerable persons like small children and the elderly can experience grave complications by contracting the flu virus. Children under the age of 6 months cannot receive the flu shot and rely on those around them to be protected against this virus. Epidemics can occur easily and rapidly if the general population is not protected against influenza.

Who is eligible for this vaccine and when should it be received?

All persons residing in Ontario are eligible for this publicly funded inoculation. It should be received annually.

When should my child start receiving the flu shot?

Your child can first receive the flu shot once they've reached 6 months of age. The first shot must be provided in two separate injections spaced 4 weeks apart to ensure there are no adverse reactions. The flu shot can trigger an allergic reaction; providing it in two doses reduces severe risks like anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction).

Who should NOT get this vaccine?

Children should not receive the flu shot if any of the following applies:

  • the child is under 6 months of age
  • has had a serious allergy to a previous dose or any ingredient in the vaccine (except eggs)
  • have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks of a previous flu vaccination

The flu shot is also available in a nasal mist format. Children should not receive the nasal mist if any of the following applies:

  • the child is younger than 2 years of age
  • has severe asthma or active wheezing
  • have had a serious allergy to a previous dose or any ingredient in the vaccine
  • have egg allergies
  • are taking aspirin or aspirin-containing therapy
  • have weakened immune systems by disease or medical treatment
  • have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks of a previous flu vaccination

 

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