While it is a good idea to get your flu shot every year, health officials say it is vital to get your flu shot in 2020.
Health experts don’t know exactly what it will look like having two viruses – the flu and COVID-19 – circulating at the same time this fall, but it could be “dangerous.”
That’s why getting a flu shot this fall is “more important than ever,” according to Dr. Ran Goldman, a professor at UBC’s faculty of medicine and pediatrician at BC Children's Hospital.
Once someone has a viral infection, their immune system is reduced to a point where they can catch other infections, said Goldman, so, someone with the flu could catch COVID-19 – and vice versa – or catch both viruses at the same time, based on early reports from China.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is allowing people to book ahead and schedule a time to get their flu vaccination. Additionally, it has increased the number of flu clinics being offered in local community centres and other community spaces to meet expected demand.
Who is the flu vaccine for?
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older. It is available for free for almost everyone in B.C., including all children between six months and five years old, seniors 65 years old and older, pregnant women, Indigenous people and individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.
People who work or live with people who have a higher risk of complications from the flu and visitors to health care facilities are also eligible for a free vaccine. For the small group of people who may not be eligible for the publicly funded vaccine, it can be purchased at a pharmacy or a travel clinic.
Influenza is a virus that causes infection of the upper airway and can lead to symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and cough. Complications from influenza, such as pneumonia, are more common in the very young, the elderly and those with heart, lung or other health conditions. Influenza is easily spread from person to person, and an infected person can spread the virus before they are even sick with symptoms.
Flu Shot Appointment
Vancouver Coastal Health strongly encourages you to make an appointment to help reduce line-ups and maintain safe physical distancing. To do so, contact your doctor, pharmacist or go online here to book an appointment.
You can also phone to book an appointment at a local public health clinic in Vancouver, Richmond, North Shore, Sea-to-Sky, Powell River, Sunshine Coast, Bella Coola and Bella Bella. To book and find the closest location go here, use ImmunizeBC’s Flu Locator or call 8-1-1 if you don’t have access to the Internet.
The health authority will be offering the intranasal flu vaccine, FluMist, for children 2-17 years of age in some locations, based on availability.
Where you can get a flu shot
- VCH Public Health clinics
- Your family doctor
- Walk-in clinics
- Your pharmacist
- Urgent & primary care centres
Fraser Health Authority
If you live in the Fraser Health region, the health authority lists three options to get your free influenza vaccine:
- Book an appointment with your family doctor or local pharmacist. Note that as of this year, pharmacists can administer Flumist to eligible children age two and above.
- With COVID-19, many communities are setting up larger influenza vaccine clinics. Your family doctor or pharmacist may have more information on these as they are set up.
- Book into one of its public health influenza clinics. Check the BC Flu Clinic Locator for clinic locations and times.
Getting your flu shot at a pharmacy
If you choose to go to a pharmacy to get your flu shot, consider that some companies require you to book an appointment, while others do not.
Flu shots can be administered at all London Drugs locations. Flu shot appointments must be booked online due to COVID-19 transmission prevention practices and physical distancing measures. If the flu vaccine is currently not available in your area, you can sign up to be notified by email and the company will inform you as soon as you can book an appointment online at your selected store location. The booking process allows you to complete the consent form online and sends an appointment confirmation email.
Shoppers Drug Mart
If Shopper Drug Mart is out of the flu shot, you can set a 'Flu Shot reminder.' While they will take walk-ins, the company advises customers to make an appointment as they do book up and you might not be able to get a shot when you come in.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Save-on-Foods is taking measures to protect the community. As a precaution to limit further transmission of COVID-19, you are advised to review the screening questionnaire before coming in for your flu shot appointment.
Please do not come to a flu clinic if you are feeling unwell or if during the past 14 days you have:
- Developed symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough, fever, chills, muscle pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, headache, fatigue, runny nose, diarrhea or new loss of taste or smell
- Been near someone else who is sick or has COVID-19 symptoms
- Been asked by Public Health to self-isolate