Flu season in Manitoba begins in late fall and lasts until spring. Vaccine is available to protect against this contagious disease and it is free of charge to all Manitobans. It offers protection against four flu virus strains.
What is the Flu, How is it Spread? The flu is not a stomach virus, nor is it the common cold. The flu is a respiratory virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs, and spreads easily when a person coughs or sneezes. The flu is very contagious, and people can spread the virus before they show any symptoms. The flu can lead to serious complications such as bacterial infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and kidney or heart failure.
What is the Flu Vaccine? Every year, scientists monitor the global spread of flu and decide what flu viruses will most likely cause widespread illness; these are the viruses used to make the vaccine. Health Canada has approved all the flu vaccines provided to Manitobans.
Why Do I Need A Flu Shot Every Year? Flu viruses change over time, each year a new flu vaccine has to be developed. Vaccination with the flu vaccine helps your body recognize the flu viruses so it can protect you.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine? The flu vaccine is recommended for all Manitobans over 6 months of age.
Some people are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu. The flu vaccine is strongly recommended for the following individuals: children age 6 months to 59 months, those with a chronic illness, seniors aged 65 years or older, healthy pregnant women, residents of personal care homes or long- term care facilities, health care workers and first responders, individuals of Aboriginal ancestry, and people who are severely overweight or obese. The flu vaccine is also recommended for household contacts or caregivers of these people.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is not available this year.
Are There Any Side Effects? Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the flu vaccine than to get the flu. The most common side effect of the injectable flu vaccine is redness, soreness, and swelling where the needle was given.
How do I Find out More Information about the Flu? You can contact your local public health office, nurse practitioner, pharmacy, or physician clinic.
For more information on the flu and the clinics in your area, click here.
References: Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living & Canadian Immunization Guide Chapter on Influenza and Statement on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for 2019-2020
Submitted by: Tanya Roziere, RN BN, Immunization Coordinator, Prairie Mountain Health
Melanie Sanderson, RN BN, Immunization Coordinator, Prairie Mountain Health