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Vaccines to Prevent Influenza (Flu)

Overview

You can help prevent influenza (flu) by getting a flu vaccine every year, as soon as it is available. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. The vaccine prevents most cases of the flu. But even when the vaccine doesn't prevent the flu, it can make symptoms less severe and reduce the chance of problems from the flu.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone age 6 months or older should get an influenza (flu) vaccine each year. It lowers the chance of getting and spreading the flu. The vaccine is very important for people who are at high risk for getting other health problems from the flu. This includes:

  • Anyone 65 years of age or older.
  • People who live in a long-term care centre, such as a nursing home.
  • All young children.
  • Adults and children 6 months and older who have long-term heart or lung problems, such as asthma.
  • Children up to 18 years old who use long-term aspirin treatment.
  • People who are pregnant.
  • Indigenous peoples.
  • People who can give the flu to others who are at high risk for problems from the flu. This includes all health care workers and close contacts of children younger than 6 months.

Do flu vaccines protect against more than one strain of flu virus?

Influenza (flu) vaccines are made to work against more than one strain of flu. For example, a trivalent vaccine works against three strains, and a quadrivalent vaccine works against four strains of flu. The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) does not recommend one version over another version.

Flu viruses are always changing. Each year's flu vaccine is made to protect against viruses that are likely to cause disease that year. Ask your doctor whether or not a vaccine is safe for you and which one may be best for you.

Credits

Current as of: June 12, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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