Flu Shots – Health Hint!

Nov 2, 2022

Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Ontarians by supporting 21 different health charities providing critical services to those experiencing, or affected by, illness.  We believe education and prevention are key parts of supporting the health of our communities, so our weekly Health Hint series strives to provide tangible and easy to implement hints and tips on how to maintain your health, prevent disease, and enjoy increased quality of life.  Check out our latest Health Hint on flue shots.  We hope you find it helpful.  If you would like to join our efforts to support the health of Ontario, please consider a donation to Federated Health Charities.  

As we move towards the winter season, we also enter flu season.  With that comes the availability of flu shots.  This article is here to provide the basic information you need to know when considering whether the flu shot is right for you.  The flu shot is an optional vaccine, and each person should make the decision that is right for them as to whether they will be getting it.  We hope this article can provide a bit of information in helping you do so. 

What is the flu?

The flu is the influenza virus.  Impacts of the flu can be wide ranging with some people experiencing it as, relatively, minor with symptoms including nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite for a period of a few days.  In others though, it can lead to far more serious complications, including pneumonia, ear or sinus infections and can last for a prolonged period.  In some it can also worsen pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.  

What is a flu shot?

The flu shot is a vaccine to the influenza virus.  A vaccine is something that is created to prevent people from contracting viruses.  The vaccine is made up of little parts of flu viruses.  When you get a vaccine, you are given a small dose of the substance that helps your body develop an immunity to the virus since it gives your body a chance to figure out how to destroy the virus.  Once your body has developed this immunity it is better prepared to fight off the flu virus once it encounters it later, thus greatly reducing your chances of contracting that virus. 

Can you still get the flu if you’ve gotten the flu shot?

There is still a chance that you can contract the flu after getting the vaccine.  When the flu shot is developed, they base it on the strands of the flu that are most likely to spread that year.  Because they must determine this based off scientific predictions, there is the possibility they could be incorrect as the flu virus is a mutating and evolving virus.  So, while the flu shot greatly reduces your chances of getting the virus, it is still possible to contract it following the vaccine.

Who should get the flu shot?

Anyone above 6 months of age can get the flu shot.  There are some groups who especially should consider getting the flu vaccine though and that is those at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, as discussed above.  Since the flu, for some, can be life threatening, it is important for those people to ensure they are doing everything they can to avoid catching the virus.  

Who should not get the flu shot?

There are some groups of people who should not get the flu shot or should speak with their healthcare practitioner before getting the shot.  These include children younger than 6 months of ager as they are too young to get the vaccine, as well as individuals with severe allergies to potential ingredients in the vaccine.

Are there symptoms from the flu shot?

Yes, there can be symptoms from getting the flu shot.  Not everyone experiences these, but some will.  Symptoms include soreness around the site of the needle and mild flu-like symptoms. The reason for this is because you were given a minor dose of the flu virus, so these symptoms are your body doing the work to learn how to fight it off, which is exactly wat you want it to do!

How do you get a flu shot?

Flu shots are currently available at many doctors’ offices, clinics, and pharmacies.  Contact your doctor or pharmacy to find out the days that they are offering flu shots to arrange getting yours. 

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Sarah Wood

Executive Director
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email: sarah.wood2@ontario.ca


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