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
The nasal spray:
- runny nose
- muscle aches
- sore throat
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?
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.