#GetYourFluShot: Canada’s flu epidemic

November 18, 2022

According to Health Canada, the country is officially in the midst of a flu epidemic – an early onset of flu season and an increase in the number of influenza cases above what is normally expected. And here in BC, health officials are warning of a surge in respiratory illnesses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), especially among children.

The best protection is vaccination

Getting vaccinated against influenza is especially vital this year as our immunity against the virus has waned after two years of low influenza rates. British Columbians are strongly encouraged to protect themselves and those around them by getting a flu shot, which is again free to anyone six months and older. New this year, all seniors 65 years and older are being offered an enhanced influenza vaccine for free which provides better protection than a standard dose for those most at risk of severe illness and complications due to a natural weakening of the immune system with age.

Get Your Flu Shot

Where to get your flu shot

Those registered with the provincial Get Vaccinated system should have automatically received an invitation to book their influenza vaccine online. While this is the most efficient way to access an influenza vaccine, walk-in appointments at some pharmacies are also available, or you can call 1-833-838-2323 to make an appointment.

How to prepare for your vaccination

  • If you have a fever, cough, sore throat or feel unwell, do not go to the clinic or other vaccination location. If you have made an appointment, call to reschedule.
  • Wear a mask to the appointment and if possible, a short-sleeve shirt.
  • Children 2-17 years of age can receive the influenza vaccine by nasal spray.
  • Let the health care provider know if you have had a previous reaction to the flu vaccine.
  • Plan to stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after getting your shot in case of an allergic reaction (very rare possibility  - less than one in one million).

Combining COVID-19 vaccinations with the flu shot

To make it even easier this year, the province is making it possible for people to get their influenza and COVID-19 fall booster at the same time. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, it is safe for people aged 12 or older to get the flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine, though the National Advisory Council on Immunization recommends children aged five to 11 have a 14-day interval between a COVID-19 shot and other vaccines.

Masks are encouraged, not mandated

While a mask mandate is not in place, top health officials are reminding everyone that masks are an important way to decrease the spread of respiratory viruses, and encouraging they be used when it makes sense: on transit, in crowds, and when sick.

With an influenza epidemic among us, it’s especially vital to protect yourself, those you love, and the healthcare system – Doctors of BC encourages everyone to #GetYourFluShot. More information about the flu vaccine can be found on the government’s website.