The influenza vaccine, or “flu shot,” is an inactivated (i.e., killed virus) vaccine containing three influenza viruses: one influenza A/H1N1 virus, one influenza A/H3N2 virus, and one influenza B virus. The vaccine components often change from year-to-year based on worldwide tracking for changes in the virus and predictions about which strains will circulate each season.
The influenza vaccine is recommended and provided for free each year in British Columbia to those at higher risk of developing serious outcomes after influenza infection and to those who care for or live with someone at risk. More details can be found in the HealthLink BC links below.
Where can I get my flu shot?
How do I know if I should get a flu vaccine?
- Flu shots are administered at a wide variety of locations across the province, including public health clinics, physician’s offices, and pharmacies.
- To find the nearest flu shot clinic, visit ImmunizeBC's Flu Clinic Locator at or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.
Am I eligible to receive a free influenza shot?
- Everyone can get the flu shot to protect them from getting the flu. In British Columbia, the flu shot is provided for free to those at highest risk of severe influenza illness and those who are close contacts or caregivers to people at high risk.
- It is especially important for people who are at increased risk of complications from influenza to get the flu shot each year.
- People who may be at increased risk include: seniors, people with chronic health conditions (especially heart or lung conditions), aboriginal people, or those with compromised immune systems.
- You should also get a flu shot if you are a caregiver or close contact of someone who is at increased risk of complications from flu.
The Province provides free immunization to a number of groups, including identified at-risk populations such as:
- People 65 and older and their caregivers
- Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts
- Health care workers
- Emergency responders
- Healthy children from 6 months to less than 5 years of age.
- Household contacts and caregivers of children from birth to less than 5 years of age.
- Pregnant women who will be in their 3rd trimester during the 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 in provincial correctional institutions.
- Those who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings housing high risk persons (e.g. crew on ships)
All other British Columbians are eligible to purchase and receive the flu vaccine.
For more details on the groups who are eligible for a free influenza vaccine visit page 31 of Section VII of the Communicable Disease Control Manual .
NEW THIS YEAR
Expanded eligibility criteria:
- Healthy children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age
- Household contacts and caregivers of children birth to less than 5 years of age
DID YOU KNOW?
Egg allergies: People with mild egg allergies can safely receive the influenza vaccine.
Vaccine Supply: In an effort to increase influenza vaccine supply options, Health Canada has approved additional vaccines and suppliers for the 2012/13 flu season. BC will receive supplies of three different vaccines this year. Of these three vaccines, one is approved for use only in seniors, and each is approved for use by Health Canada as equally good at preventing influenza.
Health authorities will be using the three vaccines to best suit their needs and their diverse populations. Details of which vaccine is available in your area are available from your regional public health office. While present information suggests that the vaccines are equally good at preventing illness, BC will be evaluating the influenza vaccine program this year, to ensure that we are using the most effective mix of vaccine options moving forward.