Get the information you need about influenza (flu) vaccines.
2020/2021 influenza vaccines
The strain components for the 2020/2021 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines are:
- A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus
- B/Washington/02/2019-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus
- B/Phuket/3073/2013 - like virus (Yamagata lineage) (in quadrivalent vaccines only)
What types of influenza vaccines are available?
For the 2020/21 Influenza season, there are five inactivated influenza vaccines available in Fraser Health. Inactivated vaccines are made of killed influenza viruses and are given by needle.
Fluzone High-Dose is an inactivated influenza vaccine that is provided for free in B.C. this year for those 65 years of age and older living in long term care and assisted living facilities. It is available for private purchase at some pharmacies and travel medicine clinics. See more information on ImmunizeBC. You can also follow up with your health care provider if you have additional questions about this vaccine.
Who can get a free seasonal influenza vaccine flu shot?
The influenza vaccine is provided for free for the following groups:
People at high risk:
- People aged 65 years and older
- People of any age who are residents of long-term care facilities
- Adults (including pregnant women) and children with the following chronic health conditions:
- Cardiac or pulmonary disorders (e.g., bronchopulmonary dysplasia, cystic fibrosis, asthma)
- Diabetes and other metabolic diseases
- Cancer; immunodeficiency (including human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] infection); immunosuppression due to underlying disease or therapy (e.g., severe rheumatoid arthritis requiring immunosuppressive therapies)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease, including hepatitis C
- Anemia and hemoglobinopathy
- Conditions that compromise the management of respiratory secretions and are associated with an increased risk of aspiration (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injury, seizure disorder, and neuromuscular disorders)
- Children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years of age) with conditions treated for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
- Children and adults who are morbidly obese (adult BMI ≥ 40; child BMI assessed as ≥ 95th percentile adjusted for age and sex)
- Indigenous peoples (on and off-reserve)
- Healthy children 6 to 59 months of age
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy during the influenza season (typically spanning November to April)
- Inmates of provincial correctional institutions
- People working with live poultry (Immunization may reduce the potential for human-avian re-assortment of genes should such workers become co-infected with human and avian influenza.)
People capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk:
- All health care workers (including all health authority staff, accredited physicians and residents, volunteers, students, contractors, and vendors) who come into contact with patients at health care facilities including long-term care facilities. This includes independent health care practitioners and their staff in community settings.
- Visitors to health care facilities and other patient care locations
- Household contacts (including children) of people at high risk whether or not those high-risk people have been immunized
- Those who provide care and/or service in potential outbreak settings housing high-risk persons (e.g., the crew on ships)
- Household contacts of healthy children 0 to 59 months of age
- Those providing regular child care to children 0 to 59 months of age, whether in or out of the home
People who provide essential community services:
- First responders: police, firefighters, ambulance
- Corrections workers
Where can I get my free influenza vaccine?
You can book your free flu shot in any of the following ways:
- Check the BC Flu Clinic Locator for clinic locations and times.
- Call your family doctor to see if they have flu shots available.
- Call your local pharmacist to see if they have flu shots available. Note that as of this year, pharmacists can administer Flumist to eligible children age two and above.
- With COVID-19, many communities are setting up larger influenza vaccine clinics. Visit the Community Resource page for flu vaccination locations and times.
Why is it important for me to get my flu shot?
Influenza – or the flu – spreads very easily, and can cause serious complications or death in vulnerable people, including hospital or residential care patients. You can spread influenza for 24 hours before you have any symptoms, so you can pass the flu on to your family and friends before you even know you are sick.
The most effective way to prevent the spread of influenza is by getting a flu shot and washing your hands regularly.
When do I need to be vaccinated?
For best protection and to stop the spread of flu, get the flu shot each year and ideally in the late fall. By doing this, you’re protecting yourself and your loved ones from flu each season.
Flu season is generally from around the beginning of December to the end of March, so if you are visiting patients during that time period, you should consider getting vaccinated.
Visitors to health care facilities
Visitors are requested to get their influenza vaccine when visiting patients during the influenza season (December to April). By following this policy, you will help to protect your loved ones (the people you are visiting) from getting a potentially serious illness.