Who is eligible for the free inactivated flu vaccine?

In B.C., the inactivated influenza vaccine or flu shot is provided free this year to the following groups of people:

People at high risk of serious illness from influenza, such as:

  • Children 6 months to less than 5 years of age
  • Pregnant women who are at any stage of pregnancy during the influenza season
  • Seniors 65 years and older
  • Residents of any age living in residential care, assisted living or other group facilities
  • Aboriginal people
  • Children and teenagers required to take Aspirin® or ASA for long periods of time due to a medical condition 
  • Children and adults with certain medical conditions, including:
    • Heart or lung disorders that require regular medical care, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cystic fibrosis
    • Kidney disease, chronic liver disease such as hepatitis, diabetes, cancer, anemia, or weakened immune system
    • Those with health conditions causing difficulty breathing, swallowing, or a risk of choking on food or fluids, such as people with severe brain damage, spinal cord injury, seizures or neuromuscular disorders
    • Those who are very obese

People able to transmit or spread influenza to those at high risk of serious illness from influenza including:

  • Household contacts of people at high risk
  • Household contacts, caregivers and daycare staff of children under 5 years of age
  • Doctors, nurses and others working in health care settings who have contact with patients
  • Visitors to health care facilities and other patient care locations 
  • People who live or work in confined settings, such as correctional facilities
  • Those who provide care or service to people at high risk in potential outbreak settings such as cruise ships

Other groups who are also eligible to receive the flu shot for free include:

  • People who provide essential community services such as police officers, firefighters and ambulance attendants
  • Farmers and other people who work with live poultry

The health authorities in B.C. have an influenza control policy to protect high risk people from influenza. Health care providers are required to wash their hands regularly, stay home when they are sick, and get an influenza vaccine or wear a mask during flu season. Visitors to health care facilities and other patient care locations are also expected to wear a mask if they did not get an influenza vaccine. Such visitors can get the vaccine for free.

To find out if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine, talk to your health care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.

Anyone not eligible for a free influenza vaccine can purchase it at some pharmacies and travel clinics. Some employers also provide free vaccine to employees.