The flu is here Learn how to protect yourself and your family.

Know how to prevent the flu

  • Get your flu shot – it’s the best way to prevent the flu! For those in the Hamilton area, click here to find a clinic.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after exposure to anyone who has fever, runny nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, or is sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

Know how to manage the flu

Dr. Jeff Pernica, infectious disease physician at Hamilton Health Sciences, talks about how you can prevent and manage the flu.

  • Get lots of rest and stay hydrated.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Most people with the flu don’t need medical care, but if you or a loved one have difficulty breathing or cannot drink enough to stay hydrated, seek medical attention.
  • Year-round but especially during flu season, children with trouble breathing and infants (1 month or younger) with a fever should be seen by a medical professional immediately.
  • REMEMBER: The flu is a virus. Antibiotics only work against bacteria, meaning they can’t fight flu. Using antibiotics unnecessarily can have negative side effects on your body.

Know your healthcare options

If you think you need medical attention, you have several options:

  • Make an appointment with your family doctor – for symptoms that can wait (which applies to most of us with a flu or common cold)
  • Visit an urgent care centre – for symptoms that aren’t emergencies, but can’t wait to be seen by your family doctor. To find an urgent care centre in your area, click here.
  • Go to your nearest emergency department or call 9-1-1 – for life-threatening illness or injury.
  • Call Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) if you're not sure whether or not you need to see a medical professional.

Know the major flu myths

MYTH #1: You can get the flu from the flu shot.

False! The flu shot doesn’t contain a live virus so it’s impossible to get the flu from the flu shot. Some people experience brief and mild side effects, including pain in the arm when you get the show, tiredness, muscle pain, fever and headaches.

MYTH #2: Once I have the shot I can’t spread the flu.

False! It takes two weeks for the flu shot to be fully effective, so you can still get the flu and pass it on in that period. Even if you’re vaccinated, you can transport germs from one surface to another that might infect someone else. In addition to getting the shot, it’s important to wash your hands, disinfect common surfaces and avoid contact with people who have the flu.

MYTH #3: I never get sick so I don’t need the flu shot.

False! Even if you don’t show symptoms, you can get the flu and pass it on to someone more vulnerable than yourself. Babies, seniors and people with existing illnesses are at higher risk of developing serious complications, or even dying from the flu. By protecting yourself, you’re protecting them, too.

Know how the flu gets around

The flu spreads easily from person to person.

Even before someone has symptoms, they can spread the flu by sneezing, coughing and talking. These actions release tiny droplets containing the flu virus into the air. You can become infected if these droplets land in your nose, eyes or mouth.

You can also become infected if you touch any of these body parts after touching an object contaminated with the flu, like doorknobs, phones or someone’s hands.