This fall, children are back in the classroom, people are traveling and families are gathering for events. This makes it easier for viruses to spread and doctors expect to see more people sick with the flu this year. Our health promotion specialist Erin Mandel shares some information on the flu and how to protect yourself.
The flu can be very serious – especially for babies under two years-old, pregnant people and people with other health conditions. Like COVID-19, the flu spreads by respiratory droplets. When someone has the flu virus, they can pass it on to others when they are close together (talking, breathing, or coughing/sneezing), by sharing food/drink with someone or by touching a surface that someone else touches, like a door handle.
The flu has very similar symptoms to COVID-19 and it can be difficult to tell the two illnesses apart. It is important to protect yourself and your family against both COVID-19 and the flu.
The best way to protect everyone from severe flu illness is by getting the flu vaccine.*
Here’s what you need to know:
The flu vaccine is safe.
Some people experience mild side effects from the flu vaccine, like pain or swelling in your arm (where you got the needle), fever, muscle aches and feeling tired. These symptoms usually resolve within a few days. If you have any concerns or allergies, talk to your health care provider, visit Health Connect Ontario or call 811, or contact Scarborough Health Network’s VaxFacts at 416-438-2911 ext. 5738 for advice before getting vaccinated.
The flu vaccine is different than the COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine does not protect against the flu, and the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19. You need both vaccines for full protection from these illnesses.
Most people can get the flu vaccine at the same time, or any time before or after a COVID-19 vaccine.
Adults and children aged five years or older do not need to wait between getting a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine – you can even get them at the same vaccine appointment! Children aged six months to four years old should wait two weeks before and after their COVID-19 vaccine before receiving any other vaccines, in case there are side effects.
Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone.
The flu vaccine is safe and recommended for everyone, including pregnant people, people who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding and children six months and older. Getting vaccinated while you are pregnant can also help protect your growing baby, even after they are born!
Flu vaccines are safe, effective and free for everyone living in Ontario.
You can book your flu shot at a City-run clinic or mobile clinic, or your local pharmacy or health care provider’s office. You do not need OHIP at some locations, including City-run and mobile clinics.
*Remember: there are many ways to stay healthy and reduce virus spread this season. Don’t forget to wash your hands, stay home when you’re feeling sick and cover your cough. Wearing a high quality, well-fitting mask, especially in indoor public settings based on the setting and situation also adds an important layer of protection.
For more information:
- Connect with a public health nurse via eChat or call 416-338-7600
- Questions about vaccines? Contact Scarborough Health Network VaxFacts
- Visit Health Connect Ontario or call 8-1-1 for non-emergency health support
- Learn more about Preventing the Flu and Flu Vaccines
- What vaccines do I need when planning a pregnancy?
- Tips to Improve Your Child’s Immunization Experience