Protect yourself and others from the flu

Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu. The flu shot is safe and available for free to all Nova Scotians 6 months of age and older. If you are 12 and older you can get a flu shot before, after, or at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 5 to 11 need to wait 14 days between their flu shot and receiving their COVID-19 vaccine.

The flu vaccine is available from most family physicians, family practice nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and walk-in clinics. You can contact your public health office if you're unsure where to get the flu vaccine.

Who should get a flu shot

All Nova Scotians over 6 months old are encouraged to get a flu shot, but especially people at high risk of complications, including:

  • Adults 65 years of age and older
    • The immune system changes with age and this can make it make it harder for the body to fight off infections. People over 65 are also more likely to have health conditions that can get worse if they get the flu.

  • Babies and children aged 6 months to 5 years
    • Because of their age, babies' and children's immune systems are still building immunity to fight off serious infections.
  • Pregnant people
    • During pregnancy, the body goes through many changes that can make it harder for the body to fight off infections.
    • People who get the flu shot during pregnancy pass on immunity to their baby. Babies younger than 6 months can't get vaccinated against the flu. Getting your flu shot can help protect your baby from the flu after birth.

  • Anyone with chronic conditions like heart disease, asthma and diabetes
    • These conditions can affect a person's immune system and make it harder to fight off infections.

  • People at high risk of COVID-19 related illness
    • People at high risk for COVID-19-related illness should get a flu shot this year. Getting a flu shot reduces the risk of severe illness that could happen when someone catches both COVID-19 and the flu.

People who live with or care for people in the high-risk groups are also encouraged to get a flu shot because they're more likely to spread the flu to those in high-risk groups.

High-dose flu vaccine

A high-dose flu vaccine is available for people who are 65 and older. Long-term care residents who are 65 and older will all get the high-dose shot.

Other Nova Scotians 65 and older can choose to pay for the high-dose flu vaccine at a pharmacy. Or they can get the regular flu shot for free.

Flu symptoms

Influenza, most commonly called "the flu," is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. It affects the nose, throat and lungs.

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • high fever and chills
  • headache
  • general aches and pains
  • fatigue and weakness
  • a runny, stuffy nose
  • sneezing
  • sore throat

The flu, a cold and COVID-19 can have similar symptoms. If you have symptoms, complete a COVID-19 Self-assessment and book a COVID-19 test if you need one.

Recovering from the flu

Most people recover from the flu in 5 to 7 days.

If you think you have the flu, you should stay home, get plenty of rest and drink lots of clear liquids. You can also call 811 to speak with a registered nurse who can help you manage your symptoms and give you advice about whether you need to seek additional care.

For some people, the flu can be serious. If you’re at high risk of complications, or if your symptoms get worse or last a long time, you should contact your health care provider. Possible complications of the flu include pneumonia, worsening of chronic conditions, and death.

Preventing the flu

To avoid getting and spreading the flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, you should:

  • get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine
  • wash your hands frequently
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
  • limit contact with other people when you’re sick
  • limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • don’t share drinking glasses, utensils, bottles, mouth guards or cosmetics
  • disinfect surfaces like taps, doorknobs and countertops
  • wear a non-medical mask if you’re around other people, even in places where it’s not required