When should I get the flu shot? Here's what Canadians need to know

A doctor putting a bandaid on a man's arm after receiving a flu shot. (Stock Image)
Experts recommend getting the flu shot for the highest chance of not contracting the flu. (Photo via Getty Images)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Canada saw the lowest number of influenza cases in 2021 in more than five years due to COVID-19 isolation.

However, now that restrictions are lifting and the world has reached a new state of normality, Canadians are left wondering what they can expect from the 2022-2023 flu season.

In Canada, flu season typically begins in late fall and can last until the early spring, peaking in February. While the flu shot's efficacy changes yearly and is never foolproof, experts recommend annual vaccinations for the highest chance of not contracting the flu.

Read on to learn more about the upcoming flu season, including helpful information on who can and shouldn't get the flu shot, when to get your flu and COVID immunizations, and the potential side effects of this year's flu shot.

Sick woman with flu, cold, fever and cough sitting on couch at home. Ill person blowing nose and sneezing with tissue and handkerchief. Woolen socks and medicine. Infection in winter. Resting on sofa.
Canada is expected to see a spike in influenza cases this coming season. (Photo via Getty Images)

What will this year's flu season be like in Canada?

While it can be difficult to predict what the upcoming influenza season will look like in Canada, experts point to the recent flu season in Australia as a potential example.

Likely due to the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, 2022 saw the worst flu season in Australia in five years. It's reasonable to expect Canada to see a similar spike in influenza cases this coming season.

What is the flu shot?

The flu shot is a vaccine that protects individuals from certain strains of the influenza virus. Because the virus changes so regularly, new flu vaccines are released each year.

The following vaccines will be available in Canada in 2022:

  • Afluria® Tetra

  • Fluad® TIV-adj

  • FluLaval Tetra

  • Fluzone® QIV

  • Fluzone® QIV-HD

Influenza vaccines typically fall into one of two groups:

Which of these vaccines you receive will depend on availability and your health specifications.

A medical professional filling a flu shot syringe from a vial of medicine. (Stock Image)
The flu shot is a vaccine that protects individuals from certain strains of the influenza virus. (Photo via Getty Images)

Who should get the flu shot?

The flu shot is a good idea for everyone, as it's the best form of protection against the virus. Unless you have a history of complications resulting from vaccines, any individual over six months of age is eligible for the flu shot. Individuals are recommended to receive the vaccine before the flu season begins each year.

The following groups are at a higher risk of flu-related complications if they contract the virus:

  • Children under the age of five

  • Individuals over the age of 65

  • Individuals who are planning to get or are currently pregnant

  • Individuals with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes mellitus, renal disease, and more

These individuals are especially advised to get vaccinated. In addition to these groups, individuals at higher risk of exposure such as healthcare professionals should receive the flu shot each year.

Who shouldn't get the flu shot?

Nearly everyone is recommended to receive the flu shot, although an individual's health requirements may affect the type of shot they receive.

Below are the only groups that the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) suggests do not get a flu shot:

  • Children under the age of six months

  • Individuals who had an anaphylactic reaction to previous flu vaccines (although alternative vaccines may still be administered if the specific allergen is determined)

  • Individuals who began exhibiting symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within a six-week window of receiving a prior flu shot

An image of a medical professional giving a shot. (Stock Image)
Nearly everyone is recommended to receive the flu shot. (Photo via Getty Images)

Can you get the flu shot after a COVID-19 vaccine or booster?

According to Immunize Canada, individuals should wait 14 days after receiving their flu shot before receiving a COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot (including the new bivalent booster).

Alternatively, if you have received your first COVID-19 vaccine or any subsequent COVID-19 boosters, it's best practice to wait at least 28 days before getting your flu shot.

What are the side effects of the flu shot?

Most individuals do not experience any side effects after receiving their flu shot. However, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Headache

  • Mild fever

  • Achiness

  • Body chills

  • Fatigue

  • Swelling or soreness around the injection site

  • Joint pain

A woman with her back to the camera is lying on a sofa in a beautiful room with a piano, her hand holding her head. Depression, illness, imprisonment, boredom, loneliness.
Headache and mild fever can be side effects of the flu shot. (Photo via Getty Images)

Is the flu shot dangerous?

The flu shot is safe for individuals not specifically at risk of receiving the influenza vaccine.

Getting the flu shot

All Canadians over six months are eligible for their annual flu shot. Receiving the flu shot offers the best chance of protection from the flu in what could potentially be one of Canada's worst flu seasons in years.

Although you'll want to stagger the flu shot with any COVID vaccines, you'll be the most protected if you receive both before the winter flu season begins.

Let us know what you think by commenting below and tweeting @YahooStyleCA! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.