The Public Health Agency of Canada had developed an immunization schedule for the entire population. The schedule lists the vaccines the government considers essential to protect people against possible disease outbreaks, and are provided free of charge. It also indicates which vaccines are to be administered at what age. Other vaccines may also be recommended for a particular health problem, for work or lifestyle reasons, for travel, or to protect you against the flu virus.
Remember: Vaccination not only protects you but also indirectly protects everyone around you.
In B.C., the inactivated influenza vaccine or flu shot is provided free 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 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
- Indigenous 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, including long-term care facilities, who have contact with patients
- Visitors to health care facilities and other patient care locations
- Inmates of provincial correctional institutions
- Those who provide care or service to people at high risk in potential outbreak settings such as cruise ships
- Other groups who are eligible to receive the flu shot for free include:
- People who provide essential community services such as police officers, firefighters, ambulance attendants, and corrections workers
- People who work with live poultry
To find out if you are eligible, talk to your health care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.
If you are not eligible for a free influenza vaccine, you can buy it at most pharmacies and travel clinics. Some employers also provide free vaccine to employees.
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 get immunized, you help protect others as well by reducing the spread of the influenza virus.
What are the possible reactions after the vaccine?
Common reactions to the vaccine include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, aching muscles and fatigue that may last 1 to 2 days. Fewer than 1 in 20 people may have oculo-respiratory syndrome (ORS). Symptoms of ORS include red eyes, a cough and/or sore throat and/or hoarseness.
You cannot get the flu from the inactivated influenza vaccine because it contains killed influenza viruses that cannot cause infection
For more information please visit https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-feature/flu-season-faq
Please note all patients must wear a mask to get a flu shot!