Annual seasonal-flu vaccinations will start on November 1. A new vaccine is administered each year based on the circulating strains of the virus during the winter. This year, the vaccine contains three strains of the flu virus: two Type A strains and one Type B. This seasonal-flu includes the influenza A(H1N1) strain, responsible for the pandemic that occurred in 2009.
The vaccine is safe and does not contain any live virus. As a result, it cannot transmit the disease. Vaccination cannot protect you, however, against more mundane infections such as colds, which are often mistaken for the flu. See differences between the flu and colds.
Vaccination is free for people at higher risk of developing complications either due to their age or health:
- Children age 6 to 23 months
- People with certain chronic diseases, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes, major obesity, cancer, asthma or a weakened immune system (also applies to pregnant women, regardless of the stage of pregnancy)
- Pregnant women in good health who are in their 2nd or 3rd trimester
- People age 60 or older
The vaccine is also recommended and available free to close contacts of groups of people at risk or of children under six months old and to healthcare workers.
This year a nasal spray vaccine called FluMist® will be provided free throughout Québec only to children age 2 to 17 at high risk of influenza-related complications.
Anyone else who wants protection against the seasonal flu can be vaccinated at their own expense.