British Columbians reminded to get their flu shot


B.C.’s Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid and provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall got their flu shot today to demonstrate the importance of getting vaccinated as part of the provincial influenza immunization campaign. Clinics are now open throughout the province, and eligible British Columbians are able to get immunized at a wide variety of locations – from dedicated flu clinics, to their doctor’s offices, or local pharmacist. Specially trained pharmacists have been able to offer immunizations for three years. More than 2,000 community pharmacists throughout B.C. are authorized to provide the flu vaccine this year.

Influenza can be a serious illness. Each year thousands of Canadians die from its complications – most of them seniors, or those with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions.

This is the first year all healthy children between six months and five years of age will be eligible to be vaccinated for free. Each year, young children are among those most severely affected by complications from flu, as their immune systems are still developing. Parents are encouraged to get their children vaccinated and to get vaccinated themselves.

This year also marks the first year of the health-care worker influenza prevention policy, which requires all health-care workers in British Columbia to either get vaccinated or wear a mask for the duration of flu season. This policy will protect vulnerable patients and seniors from potentially contracting influenza from their caregivers or while at a health-care facility.

Flu shots are provided free of charge to all British Columbians who are at risk of developing complications, or those who have close contact with at-risk individuals.

Those eligible include:

  • People 65 years of age and older and their caregivers.
  • Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts.
  • Health-care workers.
  • Emergency responders.
  • Healthy children between six months and 59 months of age (under five years old).
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children under five years old.
  • Pregnant women who will be in their third trimester during influenza season.
  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities.
  • Owners and operators of poultry farms.
  • Aboriginal peoples.
  • People who are very obese (those with a body mass index of 40 or greater).
  • Corrections officers and inmates of provincial correctional institutions.
  • People who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings that house high-risk persons (such as crew on a ship).

British Columbians who are ineligible for the free vaccine are able to purchase it for a small fee. In addition, many workplaces offer the vaccine to their employees at onsite clinics.

To find the nearest flu shot clinic, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or visit the B.C. Flu Clinic Locator at: