Prevention and Symptoms
The earlier you get the flu shot, the sooner you are protected. Influenza vaccine is encouraged for all Canadians six months of age and older. Getting the flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting the flu.
How well does the flu shot protect against the flu?
The seasonal flu vaccine can prevent the flu in 70 to 90 per cent of healthy adults and children and reduces the risk of serious flu complications.
What can you do?
Flu-like illnesses spread very easily. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people become infected by touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, mouths or noses.
Everyone is encouraged to follow the usual infection control precautions to stay healthy and reduce the risk of illness. To reduce the risk of illness:
- Wash your hands well and often. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains between 60-90 per cent alcohol
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, not your hand. Dispose of tissues immediately.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way
- Stay home when you are ill and limit your contact with others
- Clean and disinfect shared surfaces
You can help reduce the impact of illness in our community by teaching and encouraging your children to follow the above everyday actions.
Symptoms of Influenza virus
Influenza is a respiratory illness that usually starts with a headache, chills and cough, followed quickly by one or more of the following:
- Fever (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit/38 degrees Celsius)
- Loss of appetite
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches and fatigue
- Running nose
- Watery eyes
In children under five years of age, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea may also be present and fever may not be prominent. In more severe cases, or in people with chronic health conditions, complications such as pneumonia may develop.
Residents are encouraged to be aware of their health and stay at home if having influenza-like symptoms.
If you have any concerns about you or your family's health, please contact your family physician or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 (24 hours a day/7 days a week).
What is the contagious period?
It is important to stay home when experiencing flu-like symptoms. People infected with a flu virus may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and until symptoms have resolved.
When do I get medical help?
It is important to know when to get medical help. If you or a family member have the flu, use this Flu Assessment Tool to help you decide what to do next.
Who should be vaccinated for the flu?
Getting an annual flu shot is encouraged for all persons six months of age and older. Even if the strains have not changed, getting the flu shot reinforces optimal protection.
Stay healthy this flu season. Protect yourself and the people around you from the flu by getting your flu shot.
The National Advisory on Immunization recommends the flu shot for all healthy children and adults every year and particularly for:
- people (including pregnant women) with a serious long-term health problem, such as heart, kidney or lung disease (including asthma)
- people with diabetes, cancer, a blood disorder or a weak immune system
- people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater
- children and adolescents with conditions treated for long periods with aspirin
- people who live, work or volunteer in a healthcare or long-term care facility, chronic care institution or retirement home
- people 65 years of age or older
- all children six months to less than five years of age
- healthy pregnant women
- aboriginal people
- those who live with a person who is a increased risk of complications from flu
- those who provide regular care for children less than five years of age, both in and out of the home
- those who provide services within relatively closed settings to persons at high risk
- people who provide essential community services
- people working with poultry infected with avian flu
Who should not get the vaccine?
It is not known whether the influenza vaccine causes an increased risk of recurrent Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) in persons who previously had GBS. Anyone who has previously developed GBS within six weeks following an influenza immunization shuld avoid influenza immunization in the future.
What is York Region doing?
York Region's Public Health Branch will continue to:
- maintain monitoring for influenza, through routine hospital and physician respiratory disease surveillance and reporting as well as monitoring and investigating unusual disease patterns suggestive of potential changes in the severity
- offer community influenza clinics throughout the Region
- distribute influenza vaccine to physicians for administration to their patients and participating workplaces for their employees
- reinforce prevention and control messages to minimize transmission
To contact us, please call York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-252-9933.
Last update: September 2012
Note – This information is based on the best evidence available. As more information becomes available, this information will be updated.