Learn what to do when you have the flu.
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What to do when you have the flu

Flu season is here.

The flu is just one of many infections we can all help prevent. Learn what to do when you have the flu and the best ways to prevent it.

REMEMBER: If you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 right away. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I learn more about flu season during COVID-19?

It is likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading in our community this fall and winter. For this reason, getting your flu vaccine will be more important than ever.

Read frequently asked questions about the flu and COVID-19 here. Learn the differences in symptoms, what to do if you feel sick, and where to get your flu shot.

How do I prevent the flu?

Prevention is key to tackling the flu.

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

How do I manage the flu?

Dr. Jeff Pernica, infectious disease doctor 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. Stay home when you’re sick!
  • 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.

What are my health care options?

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

  • Book an appointment at the Flu, COVID & Cold Clinic.
  • 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.
  • 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.

What are some 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.

How does the flu get 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.

Where can I get the flu shot?

The flu shot is safe, free, and available from your doctor or nurse practitioner, public health clinics, and some pharmacies.

Search clinic locations near you and call in advance of visiting for more information about appointments.

When should I worry about my child?

Generally, healthy kids who are showing flu symptoms don’t need to see a doctor. They should rest, drink lots of fluids and stay home from school if they feel unwell. If your child is very unwell and/or has the following symptoms, they should see a doctor:

  • they are having trouble breathing
  • they can’t keep liquids down and are vomiting (reduced appetite is okay, but if they’re not drinking, seek help)

Did you know?

Typically, you’ll wait for less time at an Urgent Care Centre than at an emergency department.

Hamilton’s urgent care centres are staffed by the same emergency-trained doctors as our emergency departments.

In most cases, the best way to treat the flu is with rest and fluids at home.

The flu can’t be treated with antibiotics.

An urgent care centre can treat minor broken bones.

Flu Myth
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