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Facts About...

2017/18 Seasonal Influenza Vaccines


What is it?

  • Seasonal influenza vaccine protects against seasonal flu, a serious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. For more information, see Facts About... Influenza.
  • This year, there are three different types of publicly funded (free) flu vaccines available:
    • Trivalent influenza vaccines (TIVs) protect against 3 types of flu viruses (two A and one B)
    • Quadrivalent influenza vaccines (QIVs) protect against 4 types (two A and two B)
    • Live attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist® Quadrivalent) is a QIV nasal spray and not given by injection like the other influenza vaccines. For more information, see Facts About... FluMist® Quadrivalent.
  • The B strain of flu viruses causes more flu symptoms in children and adolescents, therefore QIVs are recommended for those ages 6 months through 17 years.

How effective is the seasonal flu vaccine?

  • It can take 2 weeks after getting the flu vaccine for your body to build protection against the flu.
  • You are more likely to be protected from the flu if you get your flu vaccine. People who get the flu vaccine may still get the flu, but they may be less sick and have fewer complications.

Who should receive the flu vaccine?

  • Everyone 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccine every year.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recommends:

  • People ages 6 months through 17 years old should receive QIV. The free QIVs for this season are Flulaval® Tetra, Fluzone® Quadrivalent and FluMist® Quadrivalent.
  • People 18 years and older should receive TIVs. The free TIVs for this season are Fluviral® and Influvac®.
  • For more information on available influenza vaccines that are not publicly funded (free), talk to your health care provider.

The flu vaccine is really important for:

People at higher risk of having complications from the getting the flu:

  • Adults and children with chronic health conditions
  • Pregnant women
  • Aboriginal peoples
  • All children 6-59 months of age and people age 65 and older
  • All residents of long-term care homes and other chronic care facilities

People capable of transmitting flu to those at high risk:

  • Health care providers and those who provide services to those at high risk
  • Household contacts of people at high risk
  • Members of a household expecting a newborn during flu season
  • Those providing regular child care to children under 5 years of age

Other recommended groups:

  • People who provide essential community services
  • People in direct contact with avian-flu infected poultry

Who should not get the vaccine?

  • Babies under 6 months of age
  • People with serious acute illness should wait until they feel better before getting the vaccine
  • Individuals who have developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome within 6 weeks of an influenza vaccination
  • Anyone who is allergic to a component of the vaccine. Any component in a vaccine may be a potential allergen. The most common allergens for Influenza vaccines are:
  • For information on who should not get FluMist® Quadrivalent vaccine see Facts About... FluMist® Quadrivalent.

What is the schedule for the vaccine?

  • Children 6 months to less than 9 years of age, who have never received the flu vaccine, require 2 doses given at least 4 weeks apart. Children 6 months to 9 years of age who have received a previous dose only need 1 dose of flu vaccine each year.
  • Anyone 9 years of age and older requires 1 dose of flu vaccine each year. The flu vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines. There is no minimum interval of time required between seasonal influenza vaccine and any other vaccines.

Are there side effects with the vaccine?

  • Influenza vaccine is safe and well tolerated. The most common reported side effects are redness, pain and swelling where the needle was given. 
  • Side effects are usually mild and last only a short time. A cold, wet compress applied to the injection site and/or acetaminophen can be used to help relieve pain, swelling, and/or mild fever after vaccination.
  • Severe allergic reactions after vaccination are very rare and may not be related to the vaccine. The risk of the vaccine causing serious harm is extremely small but may include Guillain-Barré Syndrome or Oculorespiratory Syndrome. The risk of serious illness and death related to getting the flu is much higher.
  • However, if you think a serious reaction is developing, seek medical attention right away. Any unusual or significant changes in your health or your child’s health after the immunization should be reported to a health care provider and the Health Department.

For more information on where to get your flu vaccine, visit durham.ca/flu

October 3, 2017