As we approach cooler months and start gathering indoors, it's time to start thinking about getting your flu shot. For many communities, the winter season is usually a time of ceremony and gatherings. This is why it's more important than ever for everyone to get vaccinated to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.
The flu shot is free to all First Nations people in BC – both on and off reserve. To make it even easier, many people will be able to get their flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer people got the flu because public health measures like masking, physical distancing, travel and other restrictions, were being followed. Many people also got the flu vaccine, which is an important tool to keep us well and to keep our health care system working – that's why getting the flu vaccine this year is so important.
Each year, there are usually approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 flu-related deaths in Canada. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the flu caused by far the most deaths among vaccine-preventable diseases, outpacing all others combined. The good news is the low level of flu activity last year indicates that measures such as getting the flu vaccine, staying home when sick, hand washing and physical distancing can lead to fewer flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.
Flu immunization is recommended every year for everyone six months and older, but especially for those at high risk of serious illness, such as Elders, infants and young children, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions. It is also recommended for healthy people who live with, care for or visit those most at risk for complications from the flu.
Why get the flu shot?
Participation in cultural practices and celebrations can include being in close proximity to others, which could increase the potential risk of spreading the flu or COVID-19 through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. Both the flu and COVID-19, can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and even death. Everyone is at risk of the flu and of spreading it to others. In addition, the flu can make us more vulnerable to other infections, including COVID-19.
Getting immunized helps protect you, your loved ones and your community — especially those who can't be immunized or are at high risk of serious illness from the flu. It also greatly reduces the risk of getting and spreading the flu, especially when combined with public health measures such as regular hand washing, physical distancing and staying home when sick.
About the flu shot
The flu shot is safe for everyone six months and older, people with health conditions and is effective at preventing the spread of the flu. The vaccines have undergone a rigorous review to ensure they are safe and effective before they are approved by Health Canada.
For best protection, get your flu vaccine as early in the flu season as possible. The flu shot is available at your health centre, nursing station, in some doctor's offices, COVID-19 clinics or at your local pharmacy. It can be administered at the same time as your COVID-19 fall booster. Contact your local Community Health Nurse to make an appointment at your health center or visit Immunize BC's Flu Clinic Locator to find a flu vaccine clinic near you.
For more information, visit FNHA.ca/flu.