Influenza

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Translations

Find information in different languages in the HealthLinkBC File: Inactivated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine.

Did you know?

In Canada, thousands of people are hospitalized and may die from influenza and its complications during years with widespread or epidemic influenza activity.

How the flu vaccine works

 

Flu Shots During Pregnancy

Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Remember to plan ahead to get your shot – 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. 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?

  • 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. In B.C., the influenza vaccine is provided free to these people.
  • You can find a list of people eligible for a free inactivated influenza vaccine in the HealthLinkBC File: Inactivated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine.
  • Anyone who is not eligible for a free influenza vaccine can purchase it at most pharmacies (pharmacists can immunize people 5 years of age and older with injectable vaccine and 2 years and older with nasal spray influenza vaccine) and travel clinics.
  • 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)

New this year: 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.

You can find more information here.

High-Dose influenza vaccine

New for the 2020/21 influenza season: Adults 65 years of age and older, living in long term care and assisted living facilities can receive the Fluzone® High-Dose vaccine for free. For those who are not eligible for the publicly funded (free) program, small amounts of the vaccine may be available to buy from some pharmacies and travel health clinics. For more information about which influenza vaccine is right for you, talk to your health care provider.

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) says that any of the available influenza vaccines may be used in people 65 and older. However, if available, NACI recommends that people 65 years of age and older should get Fluzone® High-Dose because it is expected to provide better protection compared to the other influenza vaccines. However, use any of the available influenza vaccines is preferable to remaining unvaccinated or asking people to return for vaccine.
 

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.

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

About influenza

  • 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.
  • 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 women, 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).
Date last updated: 
Sunday, Nov 22, 2020
Date last reviewed: 
Monday, Apr 06, 2020