Free flu shots for all Island residents
October 06, 2017
Supporting Island families –
Starting this year, every person living in PEI is eligible to receive a free flu shot.
“The flu shot is your best defense against the flu. We have eliminated the charge for administering the vaccine, regardless of where people go to get immunized.
“For the first time, this year the flu shot is free for every individual living in PEI ,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. “The flu shot is free, easy to get and it’s the best way to stay healthy this flu season.”
Influenza, or “the flu”, is a disease that affects the airways and the lungs. The flu spreads easily from person to person. It can sometimes cause severe illness or even death. Babies, children, older adults and people with certain health conditions are at higher risk of serious flu complications.
“Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from getting or giving the flu to those around you. As more people are immunized, the disease risk for everyone is reduced,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Public Health Officer. “Other steps people can take to minimize their risk of contracting the flu include hand washing either with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer, sneezing or coughing into your sleeve, and staying home when you are sick.”
Flu shots are available for free in several convenient locations across the province, including local pharmacists, family physicians or nurse practitioners, and Public Health Nursing provides community flu clinics across the province.
All clinics are on walk-in basis this year; no appointments needed. Clinics start on October 10. Call 1-855-354-4358 (4FLU) or get a full list of clinic times and locations online.
Protect yourself and protect your loved ones – get the flu shot every year!
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 to reduce the impact of influenza. 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), 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 shot will offer protection against four strains of influenza viruses specified by the World Health Organization: two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B.
How does the vaccine work?
The flu shot strengthens your immune system against specific strains of influenza virus circulating in the community. It does this by stimulating your immune system to build up antibodies against the viruses, making it stronger so that it’s ready to fight off the illness before it starts.
Why should I get it early in the season?
Getting your flu shot early in the season lets your immune system build up antibodies sooner, so it’s ready when flu season starts. It can take up to two weeks for antibodies to build up after you get the shot.
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
- children 6 months to 59 months of age
- pregnant women
- those 65 years and older
- people who identify as Indigenous
- Household contacts, both adults and children, of individuals at high risk of influenza complications, whether or not the individual at high risk has been immunized
- Health care providers
- People who provide essential community service
- People in direct contact during culling operations involving poultry
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.
Where can Islander residents receive the flu shot?
Is there a charge for getting the flu shot?
For the first time, all people living in PEI are eligible for a free flu shot. The government of Prince Edward Island is covering both the cost of the medication, and the administrative fee.