Protect yourself and others from influenza (the seasonal flu)
Getting an influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from influenza (the seasonal flu). The influenza vaccine is safe and available for free to all Nova Scotians 6 months of age and older.
The influenza vaccine is available from most family physicians, family practice nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
If you’re 5 and older, it’s safe to get an influenza vaccine before, after or at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine. As a precaution, children 6 months to 4 years (or those aged 5 who receive a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine) need to wait 14 days between their influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine.
Book an appointment at a pharmacy
You can only book your influenza vaccine appointment online or by calling the toll-free line.
To book your appointment at a pharmacy by phone, call 1-833-797-7772 (Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm and Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm). You need to call from a Canadian phone number and be in Canada when you call.
People who prefer to get an influenza vaccine from a family doctor, family practice nurse or nurse practitioner can book an appointment by calling the clinic directly.
Who should get an influenza vaccine
All Nova Scotians 6 months and older are encouraged to get an influenza vaccine, but especially people at high risk of complications, including:
- Adults 65 and older
- The immune system changes with age and this can 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 seasonal flu.
- Babies and children 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.
- o People who get the influenza vaccine during pregnancy pass on immunity to their baby. Babies younger than 6 months can't get vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Getting your influenza vaccine can help protect your baby from influenza 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 of COVID-19-related illness should get an influenza vaccine this year. Getting an influenza vaccine reduces the risk of severe illness that could happen when someone catches both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.
- People who live or care for those at high risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalization
- When health care workers and other care providers are vaccinated, their risk of illness decreases. The risk of death and other serious outcomes among the people in their care also decreases.
High-dose influenza vaccine
Long-term care residents and patients in hospital awaiting placement in a long-term care facility who are 65 and older will all get the high-dose influenza vaccine for free.
Other Nova Scotians 65 and older can choose to pay for the high-dose influenza vaccine at a pharmacy. Or they can get the regular influenza vaccine for free.
Seasonal flu symptoms
Influenza, commonly called "the flu" or "the seasonal flu," is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It affects the nose, throat and lungs.
Symptoms of the seasonal flu include:
- high fever and chills
- general aches and pains
- fatigue and weakness
- a runny, stuffy nose
- sore throat
The seasonal 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 seasonal flu
Most people recover from the seasonal flu in 5 to 7 days.
If you think you have the seasonal 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 seasonal 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 seasonal flu include pneumonia, worsening of chronic conditions, and death.
Preventing the seasonal flu
To avoid getting and spreading the seasonal flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, you should:
- get your influenza vaccine 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