Influenza is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs that is caused by a virus. Influenza can happen any time during the year, but it is most common in the winter.
Influenza is easily spread when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or even talks. This releases the virus into the air to be breathed in by others. People can also be exposed to the virus when they touch something that carries the virus (e.g., hands, objects) and then touch their eyes or nose. Influenza can be spread before symptoms start.
Most people who get sick with influenza will get better. But influenza causes more than 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year. Pneumonia is the most common complication of influenza, and influenza can make other health problems worse. Even healthy, young people can get very sick and die from influenza.
The symptoms of influenza start suddenly and may include fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and feeling tired. Vomiting and diarrhea can happen but are more common in children.
All Albertans 6 months and older should get the influenza vaccine. Influenza vaccine is especially important for pregnant women who are at a higher risk of developing complications from influenza. It is also important to be immunized if you could spread influenza to people at high risk of influenza- related complications (e.g., infants less than 6 months of age who are too young to be immunized). This includes parents, grandparents, siblings, and anyone else who cares for your infant.
Yes. Immunization can occur at any time while you are pregnant. You should be immunized against influenza as you are at higher risk for serious complications from influenza.
To further protect you and your baby, make sure everyone around you is also immunized against influenza, especially those who live in your home.
Yes. Recent studies have shown no harm to pregnant women or their babies when mothers get the influenza vaccine during pregnancy.
Yes. As a new mother, you are busy taking care of your baby and possibly older children. It is important that you take care of yourself by being immunized. There is no risk to getting the influenza vaccine while you are breastfeeding. The injectable vaccine is safe to get when breastfeeding.
Babies less than 6 months of age cannot get the influenza vaccine. The best way to protect your baby is to encourage everyone who has contact with them to be immunized against influenza. People who have influenza may not have symptoms but they can still spread the disease. It is not enough for people to stay away while they are sick— encourage them to be immunized.
Current as of: October 4, 2019
Author: Influenza Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
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