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The flu is a highly contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. The influenza virus causes infections of the nose, throat and lungs.

In most people, the flu is uncomfortable and tiring. It can keep people in bed for days or even a couple of weeks. Some people are more at risk for serious complications from the flu, including seniors, young children, and people with long-term lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Flu can make asthma symptoms worse and cause COPD flare-ups.

The flu can be fatal. Each year, regular seasonal flu causes around 4500 deaths in Canada. 


Get the flu shot every year. The flu shot is your best defense against the flu. It's recommended for most people over six months old, and especially recommended for people in high-risk groups:

  • Seniors
  • Children
  • Childcare workers
  • Health-care workers
  • People with weak immune systems
  • People with chronic (long-term) diseases like asthma and COPD
  • Pregnant women

The flu shot is not recommended for certain people:

  • Babies less than six months old
  • People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever; they should wait until their symptoms lessen before they get the flu shot

Stop the spread of germs

Wash your hands properly and often. The most common way to catch the flu is through your hand. If you touch something with flu germs on it, then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you could get infected with the flu. 
Stay away when you are sick or from others when they are sick.
Don’t spread the flu. We highly recommend that you stay home from work, school and public places when you are sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.