Healthy Living in the North

Flu vaccine Q&A

flu, immunization, vaccine, influenza

The flu shot is your best shot against the flu!

Seasonal influenza, commonly called “the flu,” is an infection caused by the influenza virus, which affects the nose, throat and lungs. Other viruses, such as the common cold, can also affect the upper respiratory tract, but, unlike influenza, often do not cause severe and life threatening complications like hospitalizations, pneumonia, bronchitis, and death. Some people are more at-risk for influenza complications, such as people with certain health conditions, young children, pregnant women, and people over the age of 65.

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?

Healthy people can get the flu and spread it to others. Even if you do not get sick, you can still spread influenza to those who are more at-risk for complications from the flu virus.

Immunizations are safe, effective, and one of the best ways to help protect you from illness and reduce the spread of infectious diseases to others.

How do flu vaccines work?

The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after being immunized. These antibodies help your immune system to detect the flu virus and fight it off if you become exposed. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against viruses that research indicates will be the most common during flu season. Typically, flu vaccines protect against three different influenza strains and immunity against those strains lasts approximately six months. If you are exposed to a strain that is not contained in the vaccine, your illness will likely be less severe.

What are the side effects from the flu vaccine?

There are different types of influenza immunizations which cause slightly different side effects:

The flu shot:

  • soreness, redness, or swelling a the injection site
  • low-grade fever
  • aches

The nasal spray:

  • runny nose
  • wheezing
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • muscle aches
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • cough

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

No. Flu vaccines either contain no flu virus, or viruses that have been inactivated or attenuated (weakened) which means the virus cannot replicate in your system and give you the flu. However, people commonly feel mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches, and chills for 24-48 hours after their immunization as their body is developing an immune response. These symptoms are not contagious, are short lived, and mild, especially when compared to symptoms of an actual influenza infection.

Flu vaccines cannot replicate in your system and give you the flu.

Where can I get the flu vaccine?

You can contact your local physician, health unit, or pharmacy for more information on the flu and vaccinations. You can also access local clinic information on the B.C. flu clinic locator website: www.immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu. Other resources include HealthLink BC and the Northern Health page on influenza.

Flu season starts December 1st. Will you be protected?

Kyrsten Thomson

About Kyrsten Thomson

Based in Terrace, Kyrsten is a public health communications liaison nurse. Her role focuses on promoting immunization awareness and supporting internal and external communications. Kyrsten moved to Terrace seven years ago after graduating with a nursing degree in Ontario. As a student, she knew public health was her passion, especially work in health promotion and community development. She fell in love with the north and all the fantastic outdoor activities right at her fingertips. Since moving to the north, Kyrsten has started a family, taken up hiking, running, and enjoys spending summer days at the cabin.

Share

Coming soon: I Boost Immunity in northern B.C.

A nurse immunizes a patient.

As a public health nurse, I am very much aware of the importance of maintaining an effective immunization program and the impact high immunization rates have on the health of the population. I have been providing immunizations to children and … [Continue reading]

An autumn walk

dog; autumn; walk

October is my favourite month of the year - hands down. It may have something to do with it being my birthday month, but I think it's more about the fall colours, sweaters and boots coming out of the closet, and the furnace having kicked in. It gives … [Continue reading]

Foodie Friday: The sweet and savory side to winter squash

Several types a squash are shown.

The Sweet and Savory Side to Winter SquashMuch to my delight, winter squash have always marked the arrival of Fall. These festive vegetables are actually harvested in early fall and stored throughout the winter. There are so many varieties to … [Continue reading]

NH Stories: Caring for patients in Quesnel

Bonnie MacKenzie is a peri-operative nurse at GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quensel. In this video, she shares her story about how she cares for patients and why this is important to her. Specifically, she feels that respect is at the centre of good, … [Continue reading]

International Walk to School Week (iWalk): put on those backpacks and walk!

A boy and girl walk to school, back packs on.

“Hurry up or you’re going to miss the bus!” Unfortunately, this phrase has been common in my household, every morning, since moving to Prince George last year. Despite my attempts to get my children ready for the day and despite the fact that it’s … [Continue reading]