Health officials are urging British Columbians to get their flu shots this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic remains underway.
“This is not a time to be complacent. If we let our guard down, this virus will spread. There’s going to be a lot more illness around,” said provincial health office Dr. Bonnie Henry last month.
“We want to get as many people immunized as possible. I encourage everyone to get their flu shot.”
The province had increased is order for flu shots in February, after recognizing what would likely be increased demand as COVID-19 continued to spread.
Here’s what you need to know about getting your flu shot this year.
What is a flu vaccine?
Influenza vaccines can protect against viruses that cause the flu. The vaccine does not protect against other viruses or bacteria that cause colds or stomach flu.
It is a single shot generally administered during flu season (fall/winter) when flus are most likely to spread.
Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Receiving the flu vaccine can protect you and others around you from the spread of influenza.
Who should get a flu shot?
Health officials recommend that every who is six months of age and older should get a yearly vaccination, particularly if you or someone in close contact with you is considered high-risk (such as children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with medical conditions).
Those who work in healthcare or who spend time in care homes or healthcare settings should also get the vaccine.
Is the flu shot free or will I have to pay?
The flu shot is publicly funded and free for those who are eligible. The full list of eligible individuals is available online here but include:
• Anyone at high-risk of serious illness such as children, pregnant women, seniors over the age of 65, residents in care homes, etc.
• People able to transmit or spread influenza to those who are high-risk such as household contacts of high-risk individuals or care workers
• Essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, corrections workers
To find out if you are eligible, talk to your healthcare provider to call HealthLink BC at 811.
If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, it can be purchased at most pharmacies and travel clinics. Some employers also provide the vaccine free to employees and may set up a flu clinic.
Where can I get the flu shot?
The free flu vaccine is available from public health clinics, some doctor’s offices and most pharmacies.