Protecting Ontarians Against the Flu
Vaccinating kids helps to protect all Ontarians
The flu is a serious illness that is caused by a virus. People with the flu experience a number of symptoms, including fever, muscle aches and extreme fatigue. For some people it can lead to pneumonia, which is a more serious illness. Some people can become very sick and will need hospital care.
It is important for kids and adults to get vaccinated against the flu because it can reduce illness, health care provider visits and missed school because of the flu. The flu vaccine can also prevent flu-related hospitalization, and help protect other members of your family, including babies less than six months old and who are too young to get the flu vaccine.
Tips to help your child receive the flu vaccine
- If you are breastfeeding, feed your baby before, during and after getting the flu shot. The physical closeness and familiar taste of breast milk will calm your baby
- Chat quietly or sing a song to your child. Bring a favourite toy, book or blanket with you. Having something to calm your children will help them through the process.
- Hold or cuddle your child while they receive the injection.
Read more tips in the Infants and Children Need a Flu Shot fact sheet.
Broader flu protection with new vaccine for children and youth
As part of Ontario's Universal Influenza Immunization Program, the province is providing a new type of free vaccine for children this flu season. The "quadrivalent" vaccine is made to protect against four flu viruses: two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
Ontario's other publicly funded flu vaccines (known as "trivalent" vaccines) protect against three different flu viruses: two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus. The quadrivalent vaccine protects against the same three flu viruses as the trivalent vaccine plus an additional influenza B virus. Research has shown that influenza B virus affects younger people more frequently than adults.
The quadrivalent vaccine will be available in two forms:
- An injectable vaccine for those aged six months to 17 years
- A nasal spray for those aged two to 17 years (read the Infants and Children Need a Flu Shot fact-sheet to learn more)
While children aged two to 17 years can receive either the quadrivalent flu shot or the nasal spray, evidence shows the nasal spray is more effective than the injectable vaccine for children two to five years old.
Individuals aged 18 years and older will continue to be offered the free trivalent flu vaccines. The trivalent vaccines protect against the three influenza viruses most likely to circulate in the 2015-16 season. The quadrivalent vaccine will also be available to adults but at cost and with a prescription.
The strains in the flu vaccine are recommended each year by the World Health Organization. This is based on international surveillance and scientific research that predicts which strains will most likely circulate during a given flu season.
More information about this year's flu program will be available at ontario.ca/flu in the coming weeks.