With flu season fast approaching, it’s time once again to start talking about vaccines for adults. Most Canadians are aware of the flu vaccine, but few take the time to learn more about how to keep themselves protected.

“A big misconception about immunization is that vaccines are just for kids,” explains Dr. Shelley Deeks, Chief of Communicable Diseases, Emergency Preparedness and Response at Public Health Ontario. “It’s important to remember that there are also vital vaccines that protect against disease for adolescents, adults, and seniors.”

Vaccines are the best tool we have

The specific peculiarities of the influenza vaccine can result in substantial misunderstandings of both it and other vaccines. “The influenza vaccine is unusual in that you have to get it every year,” says Dr. Deeks. “Because the influenza virus changes over time, the vaccine has to change as well. That’s one of the interesting and unpredictable things about the virus. Even with these changes, the vaccine is still the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones in advance of the flu season.”

When you do get your flu shot, it’s the perfect time to talk to your health care provider about other adult vaccines for diseases such as shingles, pneumococcus, and pertussis. “It’s really a matter of trying to educate adults that vaccines are not just for children,” says Francisca Roel, founder of Vaccines411. “The biggest challenge I see is getting the dialogue started between patients and their health care providers to help patients better understand their vaccination needs.”

To begin that dialogue, you can speak to your primary care provider or a pharmacist, or use an online directory to find vaccine information and a clinic near you. “Vaccines411 is a Canadian vaccination clinic finder,” says Roel. “Our role is to help people when they decide they want a vaccine but don’t know where to get it. By simply entering your postal code, you can find the closest vaccination clinic to you.”

For a variety of hand-picked resources and province-specific information, visit vaccines411.ca.