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10/08/2019 16:37 EDT | Updated 10/09/2019 16:31 EDT

Flu Shot 2019: Everything You Need To Know

It will only hurt for a second.

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Happy flu season!

The weather has gotten colder, the topic of Halloween costumes has crept into every conversation, and pumpkin has started to show up in the most unnatural of foods. It can only mean one thing: flu season is almost here.

Most Canadians are safe right now, according to Health Canada’s weekly FluWatch tracker, but a few cases of the flu have been reported in western Canada. Flu season starts in earnest in late fall, peaks around January, and ends around March, although it can last as long as April or May.

Here in Canada, flu season 2019/2020 doesn’t look like it will be particularly bad this season,  Alyson Kelvin, an influenza virologist at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, told Global News. But that doesn’t mean you can skip getting the flu shot.

Why should you get a flu vaccine every year?

Shouldn’t one be enough for a lifetime?! In an ideal world, yes, but in the real world, no. Effectiveness gradually wears off, for one thing. And the specific kind of flu that goes around changes every year, Health Canada explains, so even getting last year’s flu shot again may not protect you this flu season.

Who’s particularly at risk from flu complications?

Young children, elderly people, Indigenous people, women who are pregnant or want to get pregnant, and people with significant health problems (including cancer, diabetes, and neurological conditions) are all at risk from suffering from complications if they get the flu. 

Who shouldn’t get the flu shot?

An important part of the reason flu shots are so important is that you’re not just protecting yourself — you’re also protecting the people who can’t get the shot. Babies under six months old are too young, and some people with compromised immune systems due to moderate and severe illness can’t get immunized, either.

Pregnant women and people with chronic diseases should talk to their doctors about the flu shot.

Watch: Understanding the difference between types of flu shots. Story continues after video.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

According to WebMD, the main symptoms usually involve feeling feverish, getting the chills, coughing, having a sore throat and a runny nose, feeling achey, getting headaches, and feeling tired. In children, vomiting and diarrhea are common, too. 

Can you get sick from the flu shot?

Nope, you can’t contract the flu from the flu shot, although in some rare cases it’s possible you’ll have an allergic reaction.

When are flu shots available?

It differs by location, and there have been some shortages. But it’s worth checking if they’re available now — Health Canada told Global News that shipments began in mid-September and will continue until the end of November.

Where can I get a flu shot?

Health Canada lists flu vaccine locations for every province and territory here. These include family doctors, participating pharmacies, and public health services. 

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