Protect yourself and your loved ones: It’s free and easy to get an influenza vaccine

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October 11, 2022

Public-health officials encourage all British Columbians six months and older to get an influenza vaccine to best protect themselves, their loved ones, their communities and the health-care system this fall and winter.

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect ourselves and our communities, and we’ve made it easier for British Columbians to do so,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We’re continuing to offer everyone free flu shots, and seniors can now get more protection with an enhanced vaccine. To make it even easier, many people will be able to get their influenza and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.”

With the start of the respiratory illness season, the Province is preparing for the possibility of an influenza surge, following two years of low influenza rates due to public-health restrictions that reduced travel and socialization. It is also expected that COVID-19 cases will increase as more people gather indoors and travel.

As of Oct. 11, influenza vaccines are widely available for free in participating pharmacies, health-authority clinics and some primary-care providers’ offices throughout the province. Influenza vaccines have been available for seniors and other people at higher risk of severe illness or complications from influenza since Oct. 3.

The Province is also making it more convenient for people to get vaccinated against both influenza and COVID-19. New this year, people registered with the provincial Get Vaccinated system will automatically be sent an invitation to book their influenza immunization online, just like they can book their COVID-19 vaccines. Although booking through the Get Vaccinated system is the most efficient way to access an influenza vaccine, walk-ins continue to be available throughout the province. Alternatively, people can phone the provincial call centre (toll-free) to book their influenza vaccine: 1 833 838-2323

“I strongly encourage everyone, especially seniors, young children and anyone with underlying health issues, to get their influenza immunizations as soon as they receive their invitation through Get Vaccinated BC for the best protection,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “Getting vaccinated against influenza is especially important this year as our immunity against the virus has waned following two years of low influenza rates.”

In addition to continuing to offer everyone six months and older an influenza vaccine for free, this year, the Province is offering all seniors 65 and older an enhanced influenza vaccine for free. Previously, free enhanced influenza vaccines were offered only to seniors living in long-term care homes, assisted living settings and First Nations communities.

Enhanced influenza vaccines offer seniors better protection against influenza than standard-dose vaccines. This is because they stimulate stronger immune responses, which compensate for the natural weakening of the immune system that occurs with age. A stronger immune response can lead to better protection against influenza.

“Seniors are particularly vulnerable to influenza illness, complications and hospitalization,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care. “By offering all seniors a publicly funded enhanced influenza vaccine, we’re ensuring that our most susceptible citizens get the protection and peace of mind they need to carry on with the activities they enjoy during respiratory illness season.”

Eligible people will also be able to safely get an influenza vaccine and a COVID-19 fall booster at the same time.

B.C. will distribute more than 1.8 million doses of influenza vaccines for the 2022-23 influenza season, including more than 660,000 doses of enhanced influenza vaccines for seniors.

“B.C.’s community pharmacists are proud to be supporting the Province’s immunization program,” said Jamie Wigston, pharmacist and president of the BC Pharmacy Association. “Pharmacists are an accessible health-care provider for British Columbians looking to be vaccinated and be protected this influenza season. Almost 1,300 community pharmacies across British Columbia are offering flu shots, and in the last two years, B.C.’s pharmacists have delivered more than one million flu vaccines each year. With both the COVID-19 vaccine and flu, we anticipate pharmacists will deliver three million vaccinations to British Columbians this season.”

Quick Facts:

  • Public-health officials look to the influenza season in the Southern Hemisphere to help anticipate the severity of the season in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the season started earlier and infection rates were higher than in 2020 and 2021.
  • Vaccination-related protection against influenza varies from season to season because the circulating influenza viruses may or may not be well-matched to the seasonal influenza vaccine produced for use in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Vaccine strain composition is based on annual recommendations from the World Health Organization.
  • As part of the new enhanced influenza vaccination program, all community-based seniors will be offered the Fluad trivalent adjuvanted vaccine.
  • As part of the ongoing targeted enhanced influenza vaccination program, seniors living in long-term care homes, assisted-living settings and First Nations communities will be offered the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine.

Learn More:

To learn more about influenza, visit:
http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/influenza

To learn more about the influenza vaccines, visit: https://immunizebc.ca/influenza

To register with the Get Vaccinated system, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/register

For more information about COVID-19 booster doses, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/booster