Falling ill with a fever, chills, or other symptoms of the flu may understandably be one of your fears. Research shows that the flu causes about 175,000 visits to the emergency department in Canada each year. However, a flu shot in BC can help protect you against this illness.
Some common questions asked are how can a flu shot protect you and how do you go about getting a flu shot in British Columbia? Here’s everything you need to know about the flu vaccine in B.C. and how to book a flu shot in B.C. this fall and winter.
A Look at the Flu in BC
The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory illness that is contagious. The influenza family of viruses may infect the lungs, throat, and nose. The two main types are Influenza A and B. Either can lead to mild or severe illness and sometimes results in death. The flu can easily spread amongst people through sneezing and coughing as it is passed on through tiny droplets. The flu virus may also spread if an individual touches small droplets and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes before cleaning their hands.
People who catch the flu are susceptible to developing other illnesses, such as post-viral infections or decompensated chronic conditions. For this reason, you may want to consider getting the flu vaccine every year.
Why Get a Flu Shot in BC?
During the past couple of years, British Columbians experienced reduced socialization and travel due to COVID-19 related restrictions. As a result, the flu rates in recent years were relatively low. However, the number of flu cases in Australia skyrocketed this past summer, and B.C. is expected to experience the same trend this fall and winter.
The reason why the flu season is expected to be worse in B.C. is because of the concomitant spread of other common viruses, like RSV. In addition, many people weren’t exposed to viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic. This possibly made people more vulnerable to catching the flu and other respiratory illnesses. Even people who are seemingly healthy and young may benefit from getting the flu vaccine, as anyone can get this illness.
In addition, even if people have had influenza vaccinations in past years, they still benefit from getting a new one this year. That’s because different flu strains can circulate throughout the community from year to year, as the flu virus mutates. That means previous year’s vaccinations won’t necessarily protect you from this year’s flu strains.
When Are Flu Shots Available in BC?
Flu shots became available in BC around mid-October. They’re typically available in vaccination centres, pharmacies, hospitals, and some doctor’s offices.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot in BC?
These vaccines are recommended for everybody over 6 months of age. However, these shots may especially be helpful for people in the following high risk categories:
- Children 6 months to less than 5 years of age
- Pregnant people at any stage of pregnancy during the influenza season
- Seniors 65 years and older
- Residents of any age living in residential care, assisted living or other group facilities
- Indigenous people
- Children and teenagers required to take Aspirin® or ASA for long periods of time due to a medical condition
- Children and adults who are very obese
- 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
Flu Shot for Seniors in BC
Seniors actually have access to enhanced vaccines as well. These shots are designed to provide a more robust immune response.
Adults 65 years of age and older are at increased risk for severe illness, hospitalization, and death from influenza compared with younger populations.
Studies suggest that, in this age group, these two enhanced vaccines are potentially more effective than the standard dose unadjuvanted influenza vaccines.
Other Groups that Benefit from the Flu Shot in BC
Getting a flu vaccine is additionally a wise choice if you are in close contact with people who may become severely ill if they get the flu.
- Household contacts (including children) 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, including long-term care facilities, who have contact with patients
- Visitors to health care facilities and other patient care locations
- Inmates of provincial correctional institutions
- Those who provide care or service to people at high risk in potential outbreak settings such as cruise ships
People who provide community services, like ambulance attendants, firefighters, and police officers, may also benefit from getting the flu vaccine.
How to Book a Flu Shot in BC
In 2022, B.C. residents can book their flu vaccines through Get Vaccinated. This is the same provincial government system used to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines.
People in B.C. are encouraged to use this system rather than booking vaccines through pharmacies like members of the public did in previous years.
On the Get Vaccinated website, you’ll need to complete the registration process if you haven’t already registered through the system for a COVID-19 shot. Once you’re registered online, simply wait for an SMS text or email telling you when it’s your turn to book a flu vaccine appointment.
If you haven’t yet received a booking link through a text or email, you can book an appointment with the provincial call center by calling 1-833-838-2323.
How Children Can Get a Flu Vaccine in BC
You will also have to register your child on Get Vaccinated to get them the flu vaccine. Following their registration, you’ll receive a notification telling you when to book their flu vaccine.
Keep in mind that it is safe for children to get the flu vaccine and other vaccines all at once. Also, children between the ages of 2 and 17 can receive a flu vaccine nasal spray, FluMist, rather than a shot if preferred.
The flu vaccine is typically given as a single dose. However, children under the age of 9 will need two doses if they haven’t had this type of vaccine before. Dose number two is designed to increase your child’s protection level. You’ll get a notification telling you when your child’s second dose is available.
How About Walk-In Appointment for the Flu Shot in BC?
You can still pursue a walk-in doctor’s appointment for a flu vaccine at a pharmacy or clinic in BC. However, availability for an appointment isn’t guaranteed. For this reason, it is best to schedule an appointment through Get Vaccinated. This will help to ensure that a vaccine is available for you when you want to get one. Otherwise, you will need to wait until one becomes available.
Can I Get The COVID Shot at the Same Time as the Flu Shot?
You can get both your flu vaccine and your COVID-19 booster this fall/winter. It’s safe to receive both flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time. This year, you can also get your free COVID-19 booster at the same appointment when you get your flu shot.
Note that the majority of individuals receive one shot in the left arm and the other shot in the right arm if they are getting their shots at the same time. This may mean discomfort on both sides the following day. But you may appreciate the convenience of getting both shots simultaneously.
Preparing for Your Flu Shot Appointment.
Avoid going in for the flu shot if you currently have COVID or COVID symptoms. Instead, contact your doctor to reschedule the visit for when you’re feeling well. Also, when you go to your shot appointment, wear clothing that is loose and has short sleeves. This will make it easier for you to receive an injection in the upper part of your arm.
Following your injection, you’ll be required to wait for around 15 minutes. This will allow the medical staff to ensure that you aren’t having any reactions to the flu vaccine before you leave the facility.
Keep in mind that you might also be required to fill out a form of consent prior to getting your flu shot. Alternatively, the medical staff may ask you to offer consent verbally before you get the vaccine.
How Much Is a Flu Shot in BC?
All residents of B.C. who are 6 months of age or older can get a flu shot for free in 2022. The province is distributing over 1.8 million flu vaccine doses this flu season. This includes 660,000 enhanced flu vaccine doses for seniors.
How We Can Help With the Flu Shot in Vancouver.
The flu unfortunately leads to emergency visits along with hospitalizations and deaths each year. However, a flu shot in B.C. may help you protect your health. In addition, getting a B.C. flu shot is simple with the Get Vaccinated system.
At Walk In, our team of online doctors can answer any concerns pertaining to the flu shot. We can also further explain to you why you may want to book a flu shot in Vancouver. If you’re experiencing flu symptoms, we can address them as well.
See a Virtual Doctor for flu treatment.
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