Hey, get your free flu shot!

 Influenza immunization prevents serious illness, deaths

PEOPLE in British Columbia are being encouraged to protect themselves and those around them against influenza this year by getting a flu shot.

This year, influenza vaccination is free for everyone in B.C. older than six months.

The unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it has put on the health-care system continue to make influenza immunization a priority.

“All British Columbians should get vaccinated against influenza to protect themselves and their loved ones from serious illness, to reduce the strain on our hard-working health workers and to do our part to make sure the health system continues to be there for people who need it, where they need it and when they need it,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Tuesday. “I’m grateful to all of our health-care workers, including physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners and others for how they help people get immunized to protect themselves and those they care about.”

Seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses will be in communities alongside COVID-19 this fall and winter. In addition to COVID-19, it has the potential to escalate pressures already faced by the health-care system, particularly if the effects from COVID-19 and seasonal influenza occur at the same.

That is why vaccines are now available and the Province continues to increase vaccine accessibility through many locations and vaccine providers throughout B.C.

“This year, it’s especially important for people to get vaccinated against influenza. Last year’s low influenza rates means our immunity against influenza is lower than usual,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer. “Getting your influenza vaccine this year is more important than ever to protect yourself, your community and our overstretched health-care system.”

Pharmacies around B.C. have played an important role in providing easy access to influenza vaccines since 2009. This year, influenza vaccines are available to pharmacies through a direct-distribution model. This means pharmacies are able to order vaccine directly from distributors, making influenza immunization easier and more flexible for people in B.C.

“Pharmacists played a key role in helping people get immunized against COVID-19 earlier this year and administered the majority of influenza doses last year,” said Geraldine Vance, CEO, B.C. Pharmacy Association. “We’re proud of the role we continue to play in protecting our health-care system and keeping everyone safe.”

Influenza vaccines have been available already for certain high-risk groups. As they become available more broadly to the public throughout the province, people in British Columbia are encouraged to check their health authority’s website or call their health-care provider or pharmacist to check for availability and to make an appointment.

Dr. Matthew Chow, President, Doctors of BC, said: “It is more important than ever to take every reasonable precaution to keep ourselves healthy. Getting the influenza shot protects you, protects your loved ones, and takes pressure off our health-care system at a critical time. Remember to wear a mask as directed, wash your hands before touching your face and eating, and stay home when sick.”

Michael Sandler, Executive Director, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC, said: “Nurses are at the forefront of immunization delivery and are key members of public-health teams that have led immunization efforts in communities across our province. Ensuring that we have robust uptake of the influenza vaccine is essential in order to mitigate the anticipated impacts of seasonal influenza, and we encourage all eligible British Columbians to roll up their sleeves. Nurses and nurse practitioners look forward to working with patients and our health-care colleagues to ensure optimal rollout and uptake.”

Learn More:

For more information about the influenza vaccines, visit: https://immunizebc.ca/influenza

To find a flu clinic, including the nearest community pharmacies, visit: https://immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu#14/48.4283/-123.3565