Oct 05, 2022

Many people do not get the yearly influenza vaccination because it is “not that effective”. There are two concerns here. First, the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine ("a flu shot") is not nearly 100%. Second, getting vaccinated against influenza is not a one and done process, as you have to roll up the sleeve every season. The reason for this is the ever complex and changing nature of the influenza virus. The scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) try their best to obtain the best “match” for the vaccine against the incoming strain each year and provide a recommendation on the strains to be included in the influenza vaccine. Unfortunately, to date there has not been a 100% match.

When you buckle up each time you travel in a car – do you expect 100% protection against death or injury in the event of an accident? A seatbelt reduces your risk of injury and death but does not prevent it 100%! Similarly, The influenza vaccine does not guarantee that you will not get influenza ("the flu"), but having received the vaccine may mean that your symptoms will be less severe and you will be less likely to pass the virus on to others.

WHAT IS FLU AND HOW SERIOUS IS IT? - Flu is a highly contagious infection that affects respiratory system caused by influenza viruses. In some cases, influenza can lead to certain complications. These include pneumonia (bacterial and viral), ear and sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

While the majority of those who become ill will recover within a week or 10 days , it is estimated that influenza causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year. Influenza is among the top ten leading causes of death in Canada.

SHOULD I GET THE FLU SHOT IF I AM HEALTHY? - Getting a flu shot reduces the risk of getting flu by almost half and if you do get it, having received the vaccine may mean that your symptoms will be less severe and you will be less likely to pass the virus on to others.

HOW IS INFLUENZA SPREAD? - The flu virus is spread mainly from person to person when those with flu cough or sneeze. Therefore, you should cover your cough or sneeze into your arm or a tissue, not your hand.

People may also become infected by touching an object or a surface that has the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose. So, you should wash your hands with water and soap (antibacterial soap is not necessary) or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently.

CAN I GET FLU FROM THE FLU SHOT? - You can’t get flu from the vaccine because it contains inactivated (or killed) viruses or only a part of the virus.

If you are feeling fluey and you already had the vaccine, it’s likely something else such as common cold.

It takes 2 weeks to develop antibodies after getting the vaccine. If you wait to get the shot and the virus is already circulating, you can catch the flu before the vaccine is fully effective and you could get sick.

Many people confuse flu with a cold or other respiratory infections, which the flu shot will not protect you against.