What is influenza?
- Influenza is a contagious viral disease of the respiratory system.
- Influenza is spread by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with the viruses in nasal and throat secretions.
- Symptoms include sudden onset of fever and chills, a cough, muscle aches, a headache, fatigue and a runny or stuffy nose.
- In most cases, influenza is a self-limiting illness that may result in being home sick for a few days.
- In some cases, influenza can result in hospitalization and death, especially in very young children, the elderly and those with serious underlying health conditions.
How can influenza be prevented?
- Immunization prevents influenza illness in about 70% of healthy children and adults.
- Get the influenza vaccine every year, especially if you are in a high risk group as noted below.
- Stay home when you feel sick.
- Practice good hygiene:
- Frequent hand washing with soap and water.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel to clean your hands if soap and water are not available.
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue (throw tissue away after use).
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces regularly.
Who can get the vaccine free of charge?
Every Saskatchewan resident is eligible to receive a free seasonal influenza immunization.
Influenza vaccine is highly recommended for the following risk groups:
- Persons with a chronic health condition including but not limited to:
- lung and/or heart disease
- diabetes mellitus
- neurological conditions
- kidney disease
- children on long term aspirin therapy
- Adults 65 years of age and older.
- Pregnant women in all trimesters.
- Persons with severe obesity.
- Residents of a nursing home or other care facility.
- Children from 6 months up to and including 59 months of age (younger than 5 years old).
NOTE: Children younger than 9 years of age need two doses one month apart to be protected if they have not previously received an influenza immunization.
Groups recommended for immunization to protect those at high risk include:
Household and close contacts of persons who are in the risk groups mentioned above.
Household and close contacts of infants less than 6 months of age.
Members of households expecting newborns.
Individuals providing regular childcare to children 6 to 59 months of age (under 5 years), whether in or out of the home.
All health care workers and volunteers.
Persons who work with poultry or hogs.
Students of human or animal health sciences.
Who should not get the vaccine?
- Infants younger than 6 months of age.
- Persons with a past history of a severe allergic reaction to a previous influenza immunization or any component of an influenza vaccine should discuss their situation with a public health nurse, their physician or nurse practitioner.
- Persons who developed a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of a previous influenza immunization.
A mild recent illness, with or without fever, is not a reason to avoid immunization.
How effective is the vaccine?
- Antibody protection usually begins within 2-3 weeks after immunization in the majority of healthy children and adults. The vaccine cannot cause influenza and won't prevent disease from other influenza viruses that are not included in this season's vaccine.
- Effectiveness varies depending on the age and the immune response of the person being immunized, and the match between the vaccine strains and the influenza strains circulating in the community.
- Studies involving long-term care residents have shown influenza vaccine to be 50-60% effective in preventing hospitalizations and up to 85% in preventing deaths.
What are possible reactions to the vaccine?
Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get influenza.
These common reactions are generally mild to moderate and may last 1-4 days:
- Soreness, warmth, redness and swelling at the injection site and/or limited movement of the immunized arm or leg.
- Headache, muscle aches, fever, chills, fatigue, joint pain, irritability, sweating and/or loss of appetite.
- Less common: sore, red or itchy eyes, a cough, and/or skin itching and throat hoarseness.
|Acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®) can be given for fever or soreness. ASA (Aspirin®) should NOT be given to anyone under 20 years of age due to the risk of Reye 's syndrome.
- Oculorespiratory syndrome (ORS) has been reported in past influenza seasons. Tell your public health nurse, physician or nurse practitioner if you have experienced red eyes, respiratory problems (difficulty breathing, cough, wheeze, chest tightness, sore throat) and/or facial swelling following a previous influenza vaccine.
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) may occur in about 1 in a million people - a clear link to influenza vaccine has not been established.
- It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is an extremely rare possibility of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue or lips. This reaction can be treated, and occurs in less than one in one million people who get the vaccine. If this happens after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
Who should you report reactions to?
- Report any severe, unusual or unexpected reactions to your local public health nurse, your doctor or nurse practitioner as soon as possible.
Talk to your public health nurse if:
You have questions or concerns about your or your child's reaction to an immunization.
You or your child had to go to a doctor, hospital or health centre with an illness that might be related to an immunization.
What do the free influenza vaccines contain?
AGRIFLUTM is for the general public, is latex and thimerosal free, and contains surface antigens of this year's influenza A and B virus strains, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, disodium phosphate dihydrate, magnesium chloride hexahydrate, calcium chloride dihydrate and may contain traces of neomycin, kanamycin, egg proteins, ovalbumin and formaldehyde.
FLUVIRAL® is for the general public, is latex free and contains surface antigens of this year's influenza A and B virus strains, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, disodium hydrogen phosphate heptahydrate, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, water for injection and trace residual amounts of egg proteins, formaldehyde, sodium deoxycholate and sucrose. Thimerosal is added as a preservative. Antibiotics are not used in the manufacture of this vaccine.
FLUAD® is only for residents 18 years of age and older, living in long-term care facilities, is latex and thimerosal free, and contains surface antigens of this year's influenza A and B virus strains, MF59C.1 adjuvant, squalene, polysorbate 80, sorbitan trioleate, sodium citrate, citric acid, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, disodium phosphate dihydrate, magnesium chloride hexahydrate, calcium chloride dihydrate and may contain traces of neomycin, kanamycin, egg proteins, ovalbumin, formaldehyde, cetyltrimethylammonium bromide and barium.
Your immunization information will be recorded in a computerized system known as the Saskatchewan Immunization Management System (SIMS). Information collected in SIMS may be used to:
- manage immunization records,
- notify you if you or your child needs an immunization,
- and monitor how well vaccines work in preventing vaccine preventable diseases.
Your immunization records may also be shared with health care professionals in order to provide public health services; assist with diagnosis and treatment; and to control the spread of vaccine preventable diseases.
For more information contact:
your local public health office,
OR your physician or nurse practitioner,
OR the HealthLine at 8-1-1.
Information about influenza, pandemic influenza and the threat of avian flu.