The COVID-19 pandemic makes it more important than ever for everyone to get vaccinated against influenza. As flu season approaches, it's time to start thinking about where to get vaccinated. The flu shot is free to all First Nations people in BC – both on and off reserve.
Not many people got the flu last year because so many got flu shots and also followed public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, including regular handwashing, mask wearing and physical distancing. However, the downside is that immunity against the flu might be lower than usual – so that's one reason why getting the flu vaccine this year is so important.
Each year, there are usually approximately 3,500 deaths in Canada as a result of the flu. 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, wearing face masks, staying home when sick, hand washing and physical distancing can lead to fewer flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.
The flu vaccine is safe and effective and may prevent serious illness that requires hospital care, thereby avoiding any additional demand on the health care system, which is at capacity due to COVID-19. This makes getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 more important than ever.
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, or care for, or visit those most at risk for complications from the flu.
Why get the flu shot?
The flu is a contagious respiratory disease that 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, wearing masks and staying home when feeling sick.
About the flu shot
The flu shot is safe for all ages and health conditions, and effectively prevents 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 or nursing station, or in your doctor's office or your local pharmacy. 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 about the flu shot, visit FNHA.ca/flu.