Posted by Catherine Bouchard on October 29, 2020
Catherine Bouchard

Every year, from late fall through spring, the seasonal flu resurfaces in Canada. It is often mistaken for the common cold and yet the flu is dangerous for many people including pregnant women, the elderly, residents in long-term care centers, young children, and immunosuppressed people or those suffering from chronic illnesses.

People who catch the flu usually recover within a week or two, but some people can develop complications, such as pneumonia. Several hundred thousand people die worldwide from influenza each year. In 2018, Canada recorded 8,511 deaths from seasonal flu, making it the 6th leading cause of death in Canada (Stati. Leading causes of death, total population, by age group).

There is no curative treatment for seasonal flu. However, there is a vaccine, which varies from year to year depending on the main circulating strains in North America. 

This year in particular, the flu vaccination is extremely important.

  • Contrary to popular belief, the flu is not just a cold.
  • Although the vaccine does not prevent you from getting the flu, it does greatly reduce your symptoms. Furthermore, it is impossible to get the flu from the vaccine because it contains non-living particles of the virus.
  • Thanks to the vaccination, hospitalization and death rates are reduced. This is a factor worth considering, as people with flu may take up space in the emergency room or available beds in hospitals across the province.
  • The influenza virus is highly contagious. Each person who catches the flu will infect at least one other person, which poses a real danger in hospitals, already struggling with shortages of medical staff.
  • By getting vaccinated, you are helping to protect vulnerable people around you who could develop serious secondary complications from the flu.
  • Flu symptoms can resemble those of COVID-19, and they can both occur in one person. This scenario can result in extensive testing for COVID-19, which may not always be necessary, and may cause further delays.
  • The flu vaccine is safe, and most people will either experience no symptoms or only mild symptoms (redness and pain at the injection site, mild cold symptoms) caused by the body's immune response. These usually disappear within 24 to 48 hours.
  • The vaccine strengthens the immune system as it prepares it to fight the flu virus. This means that people who do get vaccinated each year will be better protected against the flu than those who do not.

The flu vaccination is readily available and there are few contraindications to the vaccine. You can book an appointment at your medical clinic, in a local community service centre (like the CLSC in Quebec), a pharmacy or even at your workplace, if the option is available to you.

The vaccine is free of charge for individuals in high risk groups and is offered at low cost to the rest of the population or even free of charge in some provinces. Do not hesitate to inquire about the cost, as it may vary from one place to another. The vaccine reaches its maximum effect about two weeks after administration. For this reason, you should not delay getting the vaccine in early fall.

Do not hesitate to contact a practitioner or Dialogue for more information.


1) Statistiques Canada 

2) - Vaccination contre la grippe

3) - Différences entre la grippe et le rhume 

4) JAMA Network 

5) Data Wrappe



8) JAMA Network - What happens when COVID-19 collides with flu season? 


Topics: Health and Wellness