British Columbians can start booking appointments for free influenza vaccination

Free flu shots for most in BC

UPDATE: 2:10 p.m.

The provincial government has announced B.C. is getting 2.4 million doses of influenza vaccine this year. That’s 200,000 more than last year.

In previous years, the province received about 1.5 million doses.

“That reflects our determination to have the largest influenza flu vaccine effort in British Columbia History,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, as he announced shots would be free to everyone over 6 months of age.

He said that last year pharmacies administered a record number of shots, Approx 1.1 million doses out of the 1.5 to 1.6 million doses in B.C. in 2020.

Dix also announced that 800 thousand doses have already been distributed or are in the process of being distributed to pharmacies.

ORIGINAL 12:10 p.m.

The province is rolling out free flu shots to everyone over the age of six months in B.C.

It was previously available free only for high-risk groups including seniors in long-term and continuing care homes.

Getting your flu shot is strongly encouraged this year because of the pressure COVID-19 is already putting on the healthcare system.

"All British Columbians should get vaccinated against influenza to protect themselves and their loved ones from serious illness, to reduce the strain on our hard-working health workers and to do our part to make sure the health system continues to be there for people who need it, where they need it and when they need it," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

"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.

Remember to plan ahead to get your shot – as this year most places will require you to book in advance. You can check your local health authority's website or call your healthcare provider or pharmacist to check for availability and to make an appointment.

This year, influenza vaccines are available to pharmacies through a direct-distribution model. This means pharmacies are able to order vaccines directly from distributors.

"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 healthcare system and keeping everyone safe."

Children 2-17 years of age who are eligible for an influenza (flu) vaccine can receive FluMist Quadrivalent by nasal spray. The nasal spray vaccine will be available at health units, some pharmacies and some doctors' offices.

Last year the province acquired millions of extra doses of flu shots and offered them free to high-risk groups and people who lived in the same household, but this is the first time it’s been free for everyone over the age of 6 months.

More details on the influenza vaccine in B.C. can be found here.

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