Flu shots will be free this year for everyone in B.C. six months and older.
The unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and and the strain it has put on the health-care system made influenza immunization a priority, according to a release from the province.
Seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses will be in communities alongside COVID-19 this fall and winter. The province said influenza has the potential to increase pressures on the health-care system, particularly if the effects from COVID-19 and seasonal influenza occur at the same time.
“This year, it’s especially important for people to get vaccinated against influenza. Last year’s low influenza rates means our immunity against influenza is lower than usual,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “Getting your influenza vaccine this year is more important than ever to protect yourself, your community and our overstretched health-care system.”
This year, influenza vaccines are available to pharmacies through a direct-distribution model. The province said this means pharmacies are able to order vaccine directly from distributors, making influenza immunization easier and more flexible.
“Pharmacists played a key role in helping people get immunized against COVID-19 earlier this year and administered the majority of influenza doses last year,” said Geraldine Vance, CEO, B.C. Pharmacy Association. “We’re proud of the role we continue to play in protecting our health-care system and keeping everyone safe.”
Influenza vaccines have been available already for certain high-risk groups. As they become available more broadly to the public throughout the province, people are encouraged to check their health authority’s website or call their health-care provider or pharmacist to check for availability and to make an appointment.