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What is The Flu?

What is The Flu?

Influenza, commonly referred to as “the flu”, is a serious respiratory disease that is caused by a virus.

Who can get the flu?

  • Anyone can get the flu

Although most people who get it are sick for a short time, some people can get much sicker and need to go the emergency room or visit their doctor.

What are the symptoms?

  • cough
  • fever
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • extreme weakness
  • fatigue

Illness caused by the flu usually lasts 2 to 7 days; sometimes longer in the elderly and in people with chronic diseases. Sometimes cough and fatigue can last for several weeks, making a full return to work and personal activities difficult. 

Click for flu self-assessment tool.

How is the flu spread?

  • From person to person
  • By cough or sneeze through respiratory droplets in the air
  • Virus can live on surfaces such as door handles, taps, counter tops, water bottles, toys, eating utensils

In general, people who get the flu can spread it to others for 1-3 days before symptoms start and up to 7 days after they begin to have symptoms. Young children can spread the flu for up to 6 days before the symptoms start and up to 21 days after their symptoms begin.

Are there complications of the flu?

The flu can also lead:

  • Pneumonia
  • Hospitalization
  • Death
  • The elderly and those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart or lung problems are at greater risk for complications

Where Can I get the flu shot this season?

The flu shot will be provided this year by some health care providers, local pharmacies and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. To find a pharmacy or health unit flu clinic near you, enter your address or postal code at this link

What if I am bringing a grandchild, or someone unable to provide their own consent to a health unit flu clinic?:

If you are bringing a young child  OR, anyone unable to give their own informed consent to a health unit flu clinic and you are not the parent or legal guardian please note:

A signed consent form (French) is required from the parent/legal guardian or power of attorney for this person. If there is no signed consent we are unable to provide the flu vaccine for that person.

This fact sheet will help with informed consent (English Version) (French Version).


Video: How the Flu Makes You Sick
Ministry of Health and Long-term Care

Transcript: You and the flu: How the flu makes you sick | Download

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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 22 October 2014.