The influenza vaccine can help protect your child against influenza (the flu). Influenza is a very common infection that causes fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. It is caused by a virus, spreads through coughing and sneezing, and usually strikes during the winter months. Influenza can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and difficulty breathing. Healthy children aged 6 to 23 months and children with chronic medical conditions have a higher risk of complications.

There are different types, or strains, of flu virus, and they are constantly changing. For this reason, a new flu shot is made every year to protect against the strains that are most likely to cause the flu during the upcoming flu season. This is why it's important to get a flu shot every year. Because the flu shot takes about 2 weeks to provide its full protection, it's best to get the flu shot as early as possible, as soon as it becomes available (usually around October or November).

Canadian immunization guidelines recommend the flu shot for healthy children aged 6 to 23 months, children with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, or kidney disease), and people who will be in close contact with these children (such as parents or daycare workers). These people are at a higher risk of complications. Healthy children of any age are also encouraged to get the flu shot even if they are not considered high risk.

To learn more, see the immunization schedule for your province or territory, or talk to your child's health care professional to find out when your child should receive their doses.

The influenza vaccine is not intended to be used for treatment of active infection, and it does not protect against strains of influenza virus that are not included in the vaccine. As with other vaccines, this vaccine may not protect 100% of people, and it may cause side effects.