People in B.C. are being encouraged to protect themselves and those around them against influenza this year by getting an influenza vaccine. This year it is especially important for people to get vaccinated.
Remember to plan ahead to get your vaccine – as this year most places will require you to book in advance.
What are influenza vaccines?
Influenza vaccines protect against viruses that cause influenza, often called the flu. Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and death. The vaccine does not protect against other viruses or bacteria that cause colds or stomach flu. Several different influenza vaccines are available in B.C.
Who should get an influenza vaccine?
This year, influenza vaccination is free for everyone in B.C six months and older.
- Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a yearly influenza vaccination with rare exception.
- Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of serious illness from influenza (such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with certain medical conditions) and those able to transmit or spread influenza to those at high risk.
- You can find information about the inactivated influenza vaccine in the HealthLinkBC File: Inactivated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine.
- The vaccine is usually given as 1 dose. Children under 9 years of age who have never had a seasonal influenza vaccine need 2 doses. The second dose of vaccine is important to raise their level of protection and should be given 4 weeks after the first dose.
Live attenuated influenza vaccine (nasal spray)
Children 2-17 years of age who are eligible for an influenza (flu) vaccine can receive FluMist® Quadrivalent by nasal spray.
The nasal spray vaccine will be available at health units, some pharmacies and some doctors' offices. Pharmacists will be able to give the nasal spray flu vaccine to children 2 years of age and older. The Influenza (Flu) Clinic locator will list if a nasal spray vaccine is available at that clinic. Call ahead to confirm. The nasal spray vaccine is not approved for use in those younger than 2 years of age and they should receive their influenza vaccine by needle.
High-Dose influenza vaccine
Fluzone® High-Dose is an inactivated influenza vaccine approved for use in adults 65 years of age and older. It contains four times the antigen of a standard-dose influenza vaccine. The antigen is the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against disease. This extra antigen is used to create a stronger immune response in older people to provide better protection against influenza.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that any of the available influenza vaccines may be used in people 65 and older and is preferable to remaining unvaccinated. However, NACI recommends that on an individual level, the Fluzone® High-Dose should be offered over standard dose flu vaccine to persons 65 years and older because of the expectation of better protection from getting sick from the flu. For more information about which influenza vaccine is right for you, talk to your health care provider.
Who in BC can receive the Fluzone® High-Dose vaccine for free?
- Adults 65 years of age and older living in long-term care, assisted living facilities, and First Nations communities are considered to be at higher risk of serious illness from influenza and are eligible to receive the Fluzone® High-Dose vaccine for free.
Where can I purchase the Fluzone® High-Dose vaccine? How much does it cost?
Those who are not eligible for the publicly funded (free) program can purchase the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine at some pharmacies and travel health clinics. Check the Fluzone High-Dose Locator. A prescription is not required.
The cost of the vaccine can range from about $75 to $100, depending on the clinic and their vaccine administration fee.
Where can I get an influenza vaccine?
Influenza vaccines are provided at a wide variety of locations across the province, including:
- Public health units
- Pharmacies (pharmacists can immunize people 5 years of age and older with the injectable vaccine and 2 years of age and older with the nasal spray influenza vaccine).
- Doctors' offices
- Travel clinics
Services vary by location. You can use our influenza (flu) clinic locator to find an influenza vaccine clinc near you.
To find a pharmacy offering the influenza vaccine near you, please visit this link. You may be able to book your influenza vaccine online or by phone, and some pharmacies are accepting walk-ins.
What are the benefits of getting the vaccine?
The vaccine is the best way to protect against influenza, a serious and sometimes fatal infection. When you or your child get vaccinated, you help protect others as well by reducing the spread of the influenza virus.
Find information in different languages in the HealthLinkBC File: Inactivated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine.
Where can I learn more?
More information on the inactivated influenza vaccine, including possible reactions and who should not get the vaccine, can be found in the HealthLinkBC File: Inactivated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine.
For answers to frequently asked questions about influenza vaccines, visit our FAQ about influenza vaccines page.
- Influenza (often called the flu) is an infection of the upper airway caused by an influenza A or B virus.
- Influenza spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or having face-to-face contact. The virus can also spread when a person touches tiny droplets from a cough or sneeze and then touches their eyes, mouth, or nose before washing their hands.
- Influenza can cause serious illness and can lead to hospitalization and even death. In Canada, thousands of people are hospitalized and may die from influenza and its complications during years with widespread or epidemic influenza activity.
- A person with influenza is at risk of other infections, including viral or bacterial pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs.
- Young children, pregnant people, the elderly, and people with certain medical conditions are at high risk of serious illness from influenza.
- For more information about influenza, see the HealthLinkBC File: Facts About Influenza (the Flu).