Influenza and the Flu Vaccine

Flu ShotThe Universal Influenza Immunization Program (UIIP) has officially launched for pharmacies in Ontario. Our pharmacists, Nancy Birchenough and Olivia LeBelle, are ready to administer the flu vaccine to individuals aged 5 and over.

What is the flu?

The flu is caused by the influenza A and B viruses. These viruses affect the respiratory tract including the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms include sudden headache, fever, chills, appetite loss, muscle aches and fatigue. Recovery usually occurs within a week to 10 days; however, the cough and fatigue may last longer.

How does the flu spread?

The flu can be spread through droplets from coughing or sneezing by an infected individual. Surfaces such as toys, doorknobs, utensils and unwashed hands can also spread the virus if contaminated by an infected individual.

What is the difference between the flu and a cold?

The symptoms of the flu and a cold are similar; however, the flu can lead to more serious health problems such as pneumonia.

Symptom Cold Flu
Fever Rare Often high (102°F – 104°F or 39°C – 40°C). Starts suddenly, lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Rare Often, can be severe
Muscle Aches Sometimes, usually mild Often, can be severe
Feeling tired and weak Sometimes, usually mild Often, can be severe
Extreme tiredness (fatigue) Unusual Often, can be severe, may last 2 to 3 weeks
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort and/or coughing Sometimes, mild to moderate Often, can become severe

What happens if you get the flu?

Please make sure to:

  • Stay home and get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take basic pain or fever relievers after consultation with your health care professional (i.e. pharmacist, physician). Remember DO NOT give acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin®) to anyone under 18 years of age
  • Gargle with a glass of warm salt water or suck on hard candy or lozenges
  • Use saline drops or spray for a stuffy nose

Call your doctor or health care provider if:

  • You don’t start to feel better after a few days
  • Your symptoms get worse
  • You are in a high-risk group and develop flu symptoms

You can also call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 to talk to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All information is confidential and you do not need to provide your OHIP number.

You may need medication or other assistance to help you get better.

For more information about influenza and the flu vaccine, please refer to Halton Public Health at and the Government of Ontario website at

Please note that this blog post is provided for information only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified doctor, pharmacist or other qualified health care professional. ALWAYS check with you physician or pharmacist if you have any concerns about your condition and/or treatment.