Flu (Influenza)

Respiratory Viral Infections Risk Index

The flu (influenza) is a contagious virus that anyone can get. For most people, becoming ill with the flu is an unpleasant nuisance, but for some people it can cause severe illness or even death.

People at highest risk include:

  • children less than 5 years of age
  • people aged 65 and older
  • people with chronic medical conditions
  • pregnant individuals

The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. It is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months, especially those who are at high risk (or who care for people that are at high risk). For the best protection, you should get the flu vaccine every year because the viruses that cause the flu change frequently.

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever of more than 38°C
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Aching muscles and/or joints
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough

Contact a healthcare provider if you don't start to feel better after a few days, your symptoms get worse or you are in a high-risk group and develop flu symptoms.

Click here to learn about the difference between the flu and a common cold.

How to protect yourself and others

  • Get the flu vaccine. It’s a simple way to protect yourself and those around you, and is free for all residents of Ontario.
  • Wash your hands often. It’s one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of the flu.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with your elbow when sneezing or coughing if no tissue is available.
  • Throw away tissues after wiping your nose, sneezing or coughing.
  • Keep personal items separate if a household member has the flu.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from the sick person if possible.
  • Do not share personal items or drinks.
  • Maintain good health by drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, eating nutritious meals and not smoking.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Stay home from school/work if you’re ill.

For additional tips on preventing the spread of infection at home, click here.

For more information about the flu and the flu vaccine, click here.