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Influenza (flu) vaccine

Learn about the influenza vaccine, effectiveness, side effects, and safety.
Health professionals: Visit Influenza Immunization Information for Health Professionals for more information.

Disease it protects from

Who should get this vaccine

Everyone is at risk of influenza. You should get the influenza vaccine if you are age 6 months or older.

Influenza can make you very sick and lead to other health problems, especially if:

  • You have heart or lung conditions, diabetes, a weak immune system, a lot of extra weight, or other health problems.
  • You live in a care facility, such as a nursing home.
  • You are under age 5 years.
  • You are age 65 years or older.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You are an Indigenous person.

It is important to get the influenza vaccine each year, especially if:

  • You have a high risk of getting very sick from influenza.
  • You have close contact with someone who is at high risk of getting very sick from influenza, such as family members and caregivers.
  • You are a healthcare provider. (Getting the vaccine helps to protect you and the people you care for.)

The vaccine is free if you live, work, go to school, or are visiting in Alberta.

Who should not get this vaccine

You may not be able to get this vaccine if:

  • You have an allergy to any part of the vaccine, except eggs. If you have an allergy to eggs, you can get the vaccine.
  • You had a severe (serious) or unusual side effect after this vaccine or one like it.

If you have allergies or have had a side effect to this vaccine, check with your doctor or a public health nurse before you get the vaccine.

Although you can get the vaccine if you have a mild illness, such as a cold or fever, you should stay home until you are feeling better to prevent spreading your illness to others.


If you are under age 9 years, the first time you get the influenza vaccine you will need 2 doses, at least 4 weeks apart.

Everyone else only needs 1 dose of the influenza vaccine each influenza season. The season starts in late fall and lasts through the winter.

Different types of influenza vaccine

There are many types of influenza vaccines. Every year, Alberta Health looks at information about influenza to help them decide which vaccines to offer for free.

High-dose and standard-dose influenza vaccine

If you are age 65 years and older, you are at high risk for serious illness from influenza. Because your immune system changes as you age, you may not respond to immunization as well as younger people. That is why people age 65 years and older get the high-dose inactivated (killed) influenza vaccine. The high-dose vaccine has more inactivated influenza virus than the regular standard-dose vaccine. The higher dose means that you will have a better response to the vaccine to protect you against influenza.

If you are under age 65 years, you will get the standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccine.

Both vaccines protect against 4 types of influenza virus.

Your healthcare provider will let you know which vaccine you can get.

Nasal spray

The nasal spray influenza vaccine may be available to buy from a pharmacist. If you want the nasal spray, ask your pharmacist if it is right for you, and talk to them about side effects, effectiveness, doses, and any other questions you have.

The nasal spray is not offered for free. You can check with your health insurance provider to see if they cover the cost.

Get the vaccine

Children under age 5 years and their families can get the influenza vaccine for free at Alberta Health Services influenza immunization clinics. Clinics are open from late October to the end of March.

You can also get the influenza vaccine from many family doctors and pharmacists.

  • Pharmacists give the influenza vaccine to anyone age 5 years and older.
  • Family doctors give the influenza vaccine to anyone age 6 months and older.

Call your doctor or pharmacist to find out if they offer the vaccine.

If you want a type of influenza vaccine that is not free, you may be able to buy it at a pharmacy. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is right for you. You can also check with your health insurance provider to see if they cover the cost.

Visit Influenza Immunization Information for Health Professionals for resources to implement a safe and effective influenza immunization program.

Influenza and other vaccines

You can get the influenza vaccine at the same time, any time before, or any time after most vaccines. However, certain vaccines have a waiting period. If you had another vaccine in the last 2 weeks, check with your healthcare provider about when you can get the influenza vaccine.

Current as of: September 1, 2023
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
Our work takes place on historical and contemporary Indigenous lands, including the territories of Treaty 6, Treaty 7 & Treaty 8 and the homeland of the Métis Nation of Alberta and 8 Métis Settlements. We also acknowledge the many Indigenous communities that have been forged in urban centres across Alberta.