Flu

Visit the flu vaccine immunization clinics

Beginning the week of October 11, 2022, the seasonal flu vaccine will be available across Northern Health. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. To find a flu clinic near you, please register and book through the Get Vaccinated system online or by calling 1-833-838-2323 (toll free).

Flu information

Influenza, often called “the flu,” is an upper respiratory infection (nose throat and lungs) caused by an influenza virus. It spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or face-to face contact. People often use the term “flu” to describe other illnesses such as the "stomach flu" or the common cold which are different illnesses, caused by other pathogens.

Flu symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Cough

Children may also experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Although these symptoms are similar to the common cold, symptoms caused by the flu tend to be more severe and last longer (7-10 days).

The flu is not always a harmless illness. It can cause serious health risks including death. A person with flu is also at risk of other infections, such as bacterial or viral pneumonia (an infection of the lungs).

Every year, about 1,400 people in BC die from the flu and complications of this, such as pneumonia. The peak of the flu season is traditionally November to April. Your best protection from getting and transmitting influenza is the flu vaccine.

During the flu season, residents who are at risk are advised to get their free flu vaccine. The flu vaccine (available through your local health unit, pharmacist, and your family doctor), along with good personal hygiene, including effective hand washing, provides the best defence against contracting and spreading the virus.

If you do find yourself sick with the flu , you can help protect others from getting ill by observing safe cough etiquette, staying home and resting, drinking plenty of fluids and managing your symptoms. Visit HealthLinkBC for facts about the flu.

About the vaccine:

The 2022/2023 seasonal flu vaccine Quadrivalent and Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccines (QIIV and TIIV), and Quadrivalent Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV-Q) contains:

  • A/Victoria/2570/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • A/Darwin/9/2021(H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Austria/1359417/2021-like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (in quadrivalent vaccines only)

The A/Darwin and B/Austria strains were not contained in the 2021/2022 season vaccines.

The flu vaccine is recommended and provided free to 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) 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
  • Healthy children (6 to 59 months)
  • Pregnant people at any stage of pregnancy during the flu season (typically spanning Nov - Apr)
  • 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 flu.)
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People capable of transmitting flu 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., 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
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People who provide essential community services
  • First responders: Police, fire fighters, ambulance
  • Corrections workers
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Anyone else who wishes to reduce their risk of flu
  • Anyone else who wishes to reduce their risk of the flu.
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Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is also available to high-risk individuals (seniors and those with chronic medical conditions) to prevent pneumococcal disease - one of the most common complications of seasonal flu. Unlike the flu vaccine, pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is generally given only one time with a one-time booster for those at higher risk. Please ask your health care provider if you also need this vaccine; if required, flu and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines can be given at the same time.

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended and provided free for:

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Residents of Extended or Intermediate Care Facilities
  • Individuals 2 years of age and older with: 
    • Anatomic or functional asplenia*
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Immunosuppression related to disease [e.g. malignant neoplasm (including leukemia and lymphoma), HIV, multiple myeloma] or therapy*  (e.g. high dose, systemic steroids, or severe rheumatoid arthritis requiring immunosuppressive therapy)
    • Congenital immunodeficiency states (e.g. complement, properdin, or factor D deficiency)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic liver disease including cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B, hepatitis C
    • Chronic heart or lung disease (except asthma, unless management involves ongoing high dose oral corticosteroid treatment)
    • Receipt of hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT)
    • Solid organ or islet cell transplant (candidate or recipient)
    • Diabetes
    • Alcoholism
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Chronic CSF leak
    • Cochlear implant (candidate or recipient)
    • Homelessness*and/or illicit drug use*
    • Chronic neurological conditions that may impair clearance of oral secretions

*For more information on eligibility criteria for pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine please see BCCDC Immunization Manual, Part 4 - Biological Products

BOOSTER DOSES:

  • A once-only revaccination should be offered 5 years after the initial immunization to those who have:
    • Anatomic or functional asplenia
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Immunosuppression related to disease (e.g., HIV, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s, multiple myeloma) or therapy (e.g., high dose, systemic steroids)
    • Congenital immunodeficiency states (as above)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic liver disease including cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
    • Solid organ or islet cell transplant (candidate or recipient)
       
  • HSCT recipients: see Part 2 – Immunization of Special Populations, Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT)

*For more information on eligibility criteria for Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine please see BCCDC Immunization Manual, Part 4 – Biological Products

For more information visit: ImmunizeBC and Immunize Canada

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