Where can I get the flu shot?
It is now possible to book an appointment for a seasonal flu vaccine. Appointments can also be made by calling 1 877 817-5279.
Locations offering the COVID-19 and flu vaccines during the same visit are indicated when booking an appointment online.
How a vaccine works
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against certain serious diseases. When a person is vaccinated, their immune cells start to produce antibodies that will be stored in memory in case the virus that actually causes the disease ever enters the body. This is a natural protective reaction that takes effect within 10-14 days of receiving the vaccine. Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent certain infectious diseases, such as the flu, which is also known as influenza.
Contrary to what some people believe, the vaccine does not cause the flu. It is perfectly safe, and most symptoms that occur after vaccination are mild and short-lived.
An important yearly vaccine
A new vaccine is given each year depending on which viruses are circulating that winter (they change every year). The vaccine is effective against the flu strains that are most likely to be circulating during the winter.
Recent studies have shown that children aged 6-23 months and healthy seniors between the ages of 60 and 74 have a risk of flu-related hospitalization and death comparable to that of the general healthy population. The flu shot is therefore no longer recommended for these people.
A free vaccine for certain groups
The flu vaccine is offered free of charge to anyone aged 6 months and older who requests it.
The vaccine is highly recommended to people who are at higher risk for complications, that is:
- People aged 75 years and older
- People aged 6 months and older who have certain chronic diseases
- People of any age living in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) and in intermediate resources.
- Pregnant women:
- regardless of their trimester, who have certain chronic diseases
- who have been pregnant for 13 weeks and longer.
The vaccine is also recommended to anyone likely to transmit the flu to those who are more vulnerable to complications from the flu, namely:
- Family members living in the same household as a child under 6 months of age
- Family members living in the same household as someone aged 75 years and older, people who have certain chronic diseases or pregnant women
- Informal caregivers for residents in CHSLDs or intermediate resources, people aged 75 years and older, people with certain chronic diseases and pregnant women
- Healthcare workers
How can I protect my baby?
While infants under six months old are considered at risk, the vaccine is not recommended for them, because an infant’s immune system does not allow for a good response to the vaccine. That’s why it’s so important that parents and relatives who are likely to spread the infection to the baby get vaccinated. In fact, people who have had the flu shot are actually protecting people who haven’t by not spreading the disease to them.
Flu prevention and symptoms
How can I prevent the flu and other seasonal viruses?
Hand-washing is a good way to reduce the risk of catching the flu and other respiratory viruses, and to avoid contaminating the people around you. As often as necessary, you should:
- Wash your hands with soap and water (no need for antibacterial soap).
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough into the crook of your elbow or your upper arm.
- Throw the tissues in the garbage, and wash your hands.
- Avoid visiting seniors or people with a chronic illness when you’re sick.
- Wear a mask in the presence of others to reduce the risk of transmitting the disease.
Flu symptoms and complications
The flu is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus. Flu symptoms include fever, muscle pain, fatigue, dry cough, sneezing, aches and pains, headache, and sore throat—basically, your whole body will hurt for several days. The flu is contagious and can be very serious, even for people who are normally very fit and healthy. The flu can cause bronchitis or pneumonia. It can also lead to serious complications in young children, seniors, and people with a chronic illness, which is why the vaccine is free for people with a higher risk of complications. Each year, the flu is linked to several hospitalizations and deaths in Québec.
Comparative table: Influenza (flu) and common cold
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory tract infections. They have similar symptoms, which is why they are often confused with one another. However, the common cold is more frequent and less serious than the flu.
The symptoms and their severity can vary depending on the person’s age and health condition.
Temperature between 38°C and 40°C (100.4°F and 104°F)
Mild or moderate
|Aches and pains
Duration: a few days, sometimes longer
|Nausea and vomiting
Common, especially in children
Often accompanied by diarrhea and abdominal pain in children
|Runny nose and nasal congestion
Mild or moderate
When to consult?
Decision-making tool of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux
Pneumococcus is a bacterium found in the respiratory tract. A pneumococcal infection can cause pneumonia, meningitis (infection of membranes that surround the brain), or bacteremia (blood infection), and possible complications include deafness, permanent brain damage, and death.
There are different vaccines available to protect against pneumococcal infections and their complications. Are you 65 or over, or do you have a medical condition that increases your risk of serious pneumococcal infection? Contact your CLSC or doctor to find out which vaccine is recommended and free for you.
For more information, visit the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux website.
Finding information online
To make an informed decision about vaccination, you need credible, accurate information! Finding reliable information online is possible, provided you know which websites you can trust. However, the credible websites often get lost amidst those with absolutely no scientific basis. The websites of government organizations and recognized national medical associations are reliable sources of information. Remember that you can also get information about vaccination from your doctor or your Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS). Here are a few sources of information we recommend.