Get the information you need about influenza (flu) vaccines.
2018/2019 influenza vaccines
Influenza strains contained in the 2018/2019 influenza vaccine are:
- A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus
- B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus
- B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (in 4 strain vaccines only)
What types of influenza vaccines are available in B.C.?
There are several inactivated influenza vaccines and one live attenuated influenza vaccine available in B.C. Inactivated vaccines are made of killed influenza viruses and are given by needle. The live attenuated vaccine is made from weakened live influenza viruses and is given as a nasal spray, called FluMist.
Fluzone High-Dose is an inactivated influenza vaccine that is approved for adults 65 years of age and older. This vaccine is not provided for free in B.C. but is available for purchase. 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?
In B.C. people at high risk of serious illness from influenza are eligible for a free influenza vaccine including:
- Children 6 months to less than 5 years of age
- Pregnant women
- Seniors 65 years and older
- Residents of any age living in residential care, assisted living or other group facilities
- Aboriginal 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; and
- 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 who have contact with patients
- Visitors to health care facilities and other patient care locations
- People who live or work in confined settings, such as correctional facilities; and
- Those who provide care or service to people at high risk in potential outbreak settings such as cruise ships
Other groups also eligible to receive the influenza vaccine for free include:
- People who provide essential community services such as police officers, firefighters and ambulance attendants; and
- Farmers and other people who work with live poultry
Where can I get my free influenza vaccine?
- Book an appointment with your family doctor or local pharmacist (pharmacists can immunize those 5 years of age and older).
- Visit one of our drop-in public health influenza clinics. Check the BC Flu Clinic Locator for clinic locations and times.
- Book an appointment at one of our public health family flu clinics (for children 6 months to 4 years of age inclusive and their immediate household members).
To book an immunization appointment with public health:
- Residents of Fraser East (Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope), call 604-702-4906.
- Residents in any other area of Fraser Health, call 604-476-7087.
- Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Anyone not eligible for a free influenza vaccine can purchase it at their local pharmacy or travel clinic.
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. If you don’t get a flu shot, you will be expected to protect hospital patients by wearing a mask while you are in a health care facility during flu season.
This means you are expected to be immunized or wear a mask when visiting patients from the beginning of December through to the end of March. We also ask that you wash your hands or use hand sanitizer at available hand hygiene stations throughout the facility. By following this policy, you will help to protect your loved ones – the people you are here visiting – from getting a potentially serious illness.
What are the health care facilities that will follow this policy?
All health care facilities that serve and treat patients will be covered by this policy. This includes:
- Hospitals including emergency rooms and admitting offices
- Health care centres
- Long-term residential care facilities
- Urgent care facilities
When do I need to be vaccinated?
For best protection and to stop the spread of flu it is recommended to get your flu shots early in the season when the vaccine becomes available in October.
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 will be expected to be vaccinated or wear a mask.
What ages are covered by this policy?
Ages six months and older are covered by this policy. Anyone younger than six months is not eligible to receive the vaccine.
Parents and guardians of infants younger than six months are advised to take the same precautions to protect their infants from contracting the influenza virus if they are visiting a health care facility as they would anywhere else in the community.
When and where do I have to wear a mask?
If you have not had a flu shot, you are expected wear a mask at all times in our facilities, except when eating or drinking.
Where do I get a mask?
Masks are provided at the entrance, and at various other locations throughout the facility. If you need help finding a mask, please ask at the reception desk.
Visitors to health care facilities
Visitors are requested to get your influenza vaccine or wear a mask 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.
Spread the word (not the bug)
Getting your influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself. Download posters and share videos to help spread the word.