Jan
23
2019

Flu shots still available – it’s not too late to get one 

Influenza is circulating in Prince Edward Island and all Islanders should get a flu shot if they haven’t already been vaccinated.

“Flu shot are available free of charge for individuals living in PEI,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell. “We have tried to remove all barriers, so that everyone can access the flu shots and stay healthy this winter.”

Flu activity usually peaks in January or February. As long as the virus is circulating, it's not too late to receive a flu shot and protect yourself and others against influenza.

“Flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community against influenza,” says Dr. Heather Morrison, PEI’s chief public health officer. “Islanders are encouraged to get the vaccine as soon as possible since it takes about two weeks to build up immunity after receiving it.”

Islanders can book a flu shot appointment at Health PEI Public Health Nursing by calling 1-855-354-4358 (4FLU). Many family physicians, nurse practitioners and local pharmacies are also providing flu shots; please call ahead to book an appointment if necessary. 

Islanders should get a new flu shot every year since the vaccine is updated annually to combat changing flu viruses. The flu is a highly contagious disease that can cause symptoms such as high fever, sore throat, headache, cough, tiredness, and muscle aches.

So far in the 2018-19 flu season, there have been 93 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in Prince Edward Island. Lab-confirmed tests are just an indication of that the flu is circulating within the province, as many individuals with influenza do not seek medical attention or are not tested. There have been 29 admissions to hospital related to the flu, and no deaths to report. PEI’s weekly flu surveillance summary is published each week online at PEI Weekly Influenza Summary 2018-2019 Season.

For more information, visit Flu Vaccination Clinics

Media contact
Autumn Tremere
agtremere@gov.pe.ca 
902-368-5610

Backgrounder

About influenza
Influenza, also known as the flu, affects the airway and the lungs. It spreads easily through coughing and sneezing, or by touching things that have been contaminated by the virus and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. It can sometimes cause severe illness or even death. 

Where can Islanders receive the flu shot?
•    Health PEI Public Health Nursing by calling 1-855-354-4358 (4FLU)
•    Family physicians and nurse practitioners offices
•    Various pharmacies

Is there a charge for getting the flu shot?
All individuals living in PEI are eligible for a free flu shot. The government of Prince Edward Island covers both the cost of the medication, and the administrative fee.

Why get vaccinated against influenza?
Seasonal influenza (flu) is a highly contagious virus. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Vaccination is the single most effective way of lowering your risk of getting the flu. When you get your flu shot, you protect yourself, your family and your community.

The flu can lead to serious complications for individuals with pre-existing illness (cancer, COPD or asthma, heart disease), the very young and the elderly. Complications may include pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.

What is the flu shot?
The World Health Organization (WHO) determines the most likely flu virus strains to be circulating in the upcoming flu season. The vaccine is then manufactured to protect against these strains. Because the flu shot contains particles of inactivated (dead) flu virus, you cannot get influenza from the flu shot.

This year's flu vaccine offers protection against 4 strains of influenza viruses specified by the World Health Organization:  2 strains of influenza A and 2 strains of influenza B.

How does it work?
The flu shot protects against four strains of influenza viruses that experts anticipate will circulate during the influenza season. It does this by stimulating your immune system to build up antibodies against the viruses, so that you are ready to fight off the illness before it starts. Seasonal influenza vaccine is effective at lowering the risk of influenza illness and hospitalization depending on the age and health status of the person receiving the vaccine.

Who should get it?
The flu shot is recommended for everyone over six months of age. It’s especially important for: 

  • people with weakened immune systems
  • those who have a chronic illness, including asthma or are morbidly obese
  • residents of long term care
  • young children
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 65 and over
  • people who identify as Aboriginal
  • anyone who takes care of people in these groups

What are the potential side effects?
The most common side effect from a flu shot is soreness at the injection site. It is usually temporary and rarely interferes with normal activities.

What are the symptoms of Influenza?
Influenza symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness, and cough. Children may also experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms can begin about one to four days after a person is first exposed to the influenza virus. Fever and other symptoms may last up to seven to ten days, with the cough and weakness lasting up to two more weeks.

General Inquiries

Department of Health and Wellness
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6414
Fax: 902-368-4121

DeptHW@gov.pe.ca