Each year, about 3,500 Canadians die from influenza and its complications across Canada. In 2015, around 35% of adults got the flu shot.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control warns that this year’s dominant strain, virus H3N2, is showing up earlier and will be stronger than last year’s mild H1N1 strain. H3N2 is a more aggressive flu virus, and is associated with more hospitalizations and deaths.
The influenza vaccine will be available by early November at public health clinics, physicians’ offices, travel clinics and pharmacies.
The flu shot is free in B.C. to people at risk from complications, and their close contacts:
- children between six months and five years;
- seniors 65 and older;
- pregnant women;
- Aboriginal people;
- individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems;
- anyone who lives with any of these people; and
- visitors to long-term care facilities and hospitals.
A nasal-spray flu vaccine is provided free at public health clinics and physicians’ offices to children from two to 17 years of age who are at risk of serious illness from influenza or who live with someone who is at risk.
Hospitalized patients and seniors in residential care are more vulnerable to influenza than healthy adults.
To help protect them, all health authority employees, students, physicians, residents, contractors, vendors, volunteers and visitors to health-care facilities must get immunized by Dec. 1, or wear a mask when in a patient care area. The vaccine is offered free for these groups as well.
“Pharmacists are a convenient and accessible option for getting your flu shot this year,” said Geraldine Vance, CEO of the BC Pharmacy Association. “More than 95 per cent of pharmacies in communities across B.C. have pharmacists who are trained and authorized to give immunizations.”
To find the nearest flu shot clinic, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or visit the Influenza Clinic Locator