Flu Shot: Get The Facts Not The Flu

This winter, the annual flu shot will help protect families all over Canada. But, what exactly is it? How does it work? And who should get it? Since knowledge is power, it’s time to learn more!

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Flu: A serious illness

If you’ve ever had seasonal influenza (the flu), you know it can be very unpleasant. Fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, and extreme tiredness can make it hard to leave your bed and make you feel very unwell.

While most people recover within 10 days, the flu can cause a range of problems, from a few sick days to serious illness. Those at most risk are the very young, the elderly, and most people with a chronic condition. On average, the flu sends 12,200 Canadians to hospital, and causes 3,500 deaths each year.

Getting the flu shot, and washing your hands often, are the best ways to protect yourself from the flu.


What is the flu shot?

The flu shot is a vaccine that can prevent flu illness, or lessen symptoms, in up to 80% of healthy people.

The flu virus changes every year, so scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) identify which four strains of virus people are most likely to get. A vaccine is then developed against these strains, and is tested by Health Canada. Because the virus changes over time, we need to get a new shot every year.

In Canada, the best time to get your flu shot is between October and December. The Pharmacist at Walmart can give your flu shot this season. Ask in-store for details.


How does the flu shot work?

The flu shot prepares your immune system to fight off the flu virus. It contains harmless pieces of deactivated flu virus. These virus fragments in the flu shot are dead and so can’t give you the flu.
A nasal spray version of the flu vaccine has been developed for healthy children ages 2-17. It contains a weakened version of the flu virus. The weakened virus used in the nasal vaccine does not reach the lungs and does not cause the flu in healthy people.
Whether you get a shot or the nasal spray, your immune system creates antibodies to fight it. This process takes about 2 weeks, so the sooner you get the shot, the sooner you are protected.
If you encounter the real flu virus after these 2 weeks, your immune system is already primed and ready to fight the flu.


Who should get the flu shot?

Health Canada recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get the flu shot, every year.

It is especially important for you to get the shot if you:

  • are pregnant, and otherwise healthy
  • have a chronic health problem, such as cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma or diabetes
  • are morbidly obese
  • live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • are aged 65 years or older
  • are of Aboriginal descent
If you are not sure if you should get the flu shot, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart.

Who shouldn’t get the flu shot?

Before getting a flu shot, speak to the Pharmacist at Walmart, or your doctor, if you have any of the following:

  • You have a severe allergy to eggs or chicken: Part of the vaccine manufacturing process involves growing the virus inside special hen’s eggs. You may still be able to take the shot.
  • You are very sick or have a high fever: Wait until your fever or severe illness has passed. You can have the flu shot if you are otherwise healthy, or if you have a minor illness, such as a cold.
  • You have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of your previous flu shot: This is a rare nerve condition. If you had it within 6 weeks of having a previous flu shot, talk to your doctor to see if the flu shot is right for you.
If you are thinking about the nasal vaccine for your children, talk to your doctor or the Pharmacist at Walmart. Because the nasal vaccine contains a weakened live virus, there are different precautions you may need to consider.

What about side effects?

The flu shot is safe and well tolerated. Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu.
Serious side effects with the annual flu shot are extremely rare. The most common side effect is mild soreness where the injection was given, usually the arm. For a day or two after your shot, you may notice a slight fever and muscle aches and pains. This is more common in children.
Side effects of the nasal vaccine can include runny nose, wheezing, coughing, headache, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle aches and pains. Serious side effects are rare.
For more information and advice, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart.

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is always available to talk to you about your annual flu shot. Come on into the pharmacy and... Just ask!

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
Any representation, performance claim, warranty or guarantee in any materials herein is the sole responsibility of the sponsor that has prepared such materials and is not independently verified by Walmart.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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