Influenza - CARP

FluWatchers Reporting Cough and Fever

Source : From Public Health Agency of Canada

This isn’t your average flu season. 

Getting your flu shot is more important than ever to keep you and your loved ones safe, especially if you’re over the age of 65.

And yes, you CAN have both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. 

Medical experts warn that the seasonal flu could make the already debilitating symptoms of coronavirus worse, putting adults over 65 who are most at risk in even more danger of severe and long-term health outcomes, or even death.

Studies show that for those with pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, the flu can make you 6 times more likely to have a heart attack.

Each year seniors are hit the hardest by flu season, especially those in care homes. In fact, 60% of seniors who catch the flu end up in hospital or worse.

This fall and winter, getting your flu shot is the best way to show you care about your health and the health of the people around you. Even if you can’t get the more effective NACI recommended high-dose vaccine, the regular dose still provides strong protection.

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  • On May 31, 2023, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the use of seasonal influenza vaccines for the 2023-2024 season. This guidance is based on current evidence and expert opinion.
  • A seasonal influenza vaccine is the most effective way to help prevent influenza and its complications. The vaccine can also help prevent the spread of the virus to others. Seasonal influenza vaccines are safe and recommended for almost everyone who is 6 months of age and older.
  • NACI provides advice on the use of seasonal influenza vaccines many months before the next season to help provinces and territories plan their seasonal vaccine programs ahead of time.

NACI continues to recommend that:

  • A seasonal influenza vaccine should be offered annually to anyone 6 months of age and older who does not have contraindications to the vaccine. It is particularly recommended for the following groups: (Strong NACI Recommendation)
    • People at high risk of severe disease, influenza-related complications, or hospitalization
      • Children 6 months up to 5 years of age
      • Adults 65 years of age and older
      • Adults and children with certain chronic health conditions
      • Individuals who are pregnant
      • People of any age who are residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
      • Indigenous peoples
    • People who can pass the influenza virus to those at high risk
      • Healthcare and other care providers, including childcare providers
      • Household contacts of people at high risk
    • People who provide essential community services
      • Healthy individuals working in essential services (e.g., grocery, pharmacy, utility services) where absenteeism due to illness would cause an interruption in essential services
    • People in direct contact with poultry infected with avian influenza during culling operations
  • When children 6 months to less than 9 years of age receive a seasonal influenza vaccine for the first time, they should be given 2 doses 1 month apart. Afterwards, they only need 1 dose every fall.
  • If a seasonal influenza vaccine is given for the first time to an individual 9 years of age or older, only 1 dose is recommended for that year and future years.
  • Household contacts of infants younger than 6 months of age, or members of a household expecting a newborn during the influenza season, are recommended to receive the influenza vaccine because infants younger than 6 months are at high risk but cannot receive the vaccine.

For the full statement, including supporting evidence and rationale, please see NACI Statement on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for 2023-2024.

The NACI recommended high-dose flu shot is recommended for everyone over 65, and has shown to be over 24% more effective in protecting older people from seasonal influenza.

CARP has been pushing provincial/territorial governments to fully fund the NACI recommended high-dose flu shot for seniors and make it easily accessible through doctor’s offices, pharmacies and other convenient locations.

Advocacy Win: Now NACI recommended high dose flu vaccines are available at no charge to adults 65+ in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, New Brunswick and P.E.I.

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The seasonal flu may come every year, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous (especially for older people)!

  • 7 in 10 people over 65 have a medical condition that makes them “high-risk” for severe complications from the seasonal flu.
  • People 65 years of age and older have the highest hospitalization rate (60%) and the highest likelihood of death (66%) from the seasonal flu
  • Experts warn that catching the flu would make you much more vulnerable to COVID-19
  • Seniors in long-term care are at increased risk of contracting flu. 62% of reported outbreaks in 2018-19 were in long-term care facilities, and a further 22% were in other settings (e.g. retirement homes, correctional facilities, etc.)
  • The high-dose flu vaccine is proven to be more effective for seniors

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FluWatchers are part of a national network of volunteers, labs, health care professionals and provincial and federal Health Ministries working to improve public health and monitor the spread of influenza (the flu).

FluWatchers contribute to Canada’s national health surveillance program, FluWatch, to help track the spread of the flu and flu-related illness across Canada.

The FluWatch program is essential part of public health that aims to:

  • Detect: Detect and respond to outbreaks and other events of public health concern
  • Inform: use the data and information to create, improve and apply to public health programs and policies to control the flu.
  • Enable: Make sure the information gathered on the flu in Canada supports international flu monitoring and is ready in case of a global outbreak


Retrieved from: Public Health Agency of Canada

As we age, our immune systems weaken, putting older adults at greater risk of contracting influenza. Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that can result in health complications and long-term decline in independence in older adults. Joining the FluWatchers program allows older adults to become representatives and knowledgeable about the health of their community by helping to track the spread of influenza. This allows to for real-time reports of where influenza or influenza-like illness is occurring. However, an increased number of members is necessary to ensure accurate calculated rates in your area. The more FluWatchers that are involved in the program, the more accurate the calculated rates of the flu in your community will be. Invite your family, friends and colleagues to become a FluWatcher today!

Ready to get started?

Become A FluWatcher!

Or click here  for a Step by Step to Sign Up.

The FluWatchers program gathers data from both healthy participants and those sick with the flu or flu-like illness.

Once you sign up to become a FluWatcher, you will receive a weekly email, asking if you have had a cough or fever in the previous week. It only takes about 15 seconds to answer. There may be a few more questions, depending on your answers to the first two questions.

The survey answers are anonymous, and all information collected follows the rules of the Privacy Act.

Remember, it is important to answer the questionnaire each week, even if you are healthy, to allow for accurate reports.

The FluWatchers program relies on Canadian volunteers to help make public health in their community better! It helps to show Canadians where the flu is happening, and if outbreaks occur, it can provide health officials with an early warning. FluWatchers can track their data contributions and monitor the spread of influenza in their community every week using the visual FluWatchers map Here and the weekly FluWatch Report Here. New reports are posted every week on Friday.

For further questions regarding FluWatchers, contact:

Public Health Agency of Canada
650H-130 Colonnade Rd
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9

Email: [email protected]

The flu season is upon us, and you can contribute to the public health of your community with COVID Watch.

FluWatchers normally track the flu but, with the ongoing pandemic, the focus is shifting to track COVID-19 over the coming months. The sign-up process and weekly surveys are the same. The COVID Watch report is published every day.

Become a FluWatcher  and join COVID Watch today!

Check out the valuable resources in our Resource Library. These can all be shared within the community. Share them with your local CARP chapter or post them around your local community centres or groups to help us all be healthier together!

  • These resources include:
    • How to tell the difference between the cold and the flu Here.

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