Alberta Health Services
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:
It is important to get the influenza vaccine each year, especially if:
The vaccine is free if you live, work, go to school, or are visiting in Alberta.
You may not be able to get this vaccine if:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HEALTH PROFESIONALS Visit Influenza Immunization Information for Health Professionals for resources to implement a safe and effective influenza immunization program.
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.
How well the vaccine works is different each influenza season.
A new vaccine is made every year to protect against the 3 or 4 influenza viruses that are most likely to make you sick. Even when the vaccine does not exactly match the viruses that spread where you live, it can still help protect you from getting influenza or getting very sick from it.
The influenza vaccine is the best way to lower your risk of getting influenza and having related health problems. It can also help stop you from spreading it to others.
The influenza vaccine will start to protect you about 2 weeks after you get it.
Vaccine safety is a top priority. Canada uses extremely safe vaccines. Learn more about vaccine safety in Canada, including how vaccines are monitored for continued safety, and ingredients in vaccines.
There can be side effects from the influenza vaccine, but they tend to be mild and go away in a few days.
Side effects may include:
At least 1 out of 100 people who got this vaccine reported 1 or more of these side effects. In some cases, it is unknown if the vaccine caused these side effects.
It is important to stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after your vaccine. Some people may have a rare but serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If anaphylaxis happens, you will get medicine to treat the symptoms.
It is rare to have a serious side effect after a vaccine. Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects.
There can be mild, short-term side effects after getting a vaccine. Find tips to manage these side effects at home.