An annual flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against the flu.


What is influenza?

Influenza is an infection of the upper airway caused by the influenza virus. A person with influenza is at risk of other infections, including viral or bacterial pneumonia which is an infection of the lungs.

Influenza spreads easily from person-to-person through coughing, sneezing or face-to-face contact. The virus can also spread when a person touches tiny droplets from a cough or sneeze on another person or object and then touches their eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

Flu symptoms can include:

  • Fever (not everyone with flu will have a fever) or feeling feverish/chills

  • Chills

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Headache

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Tiredness

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (this is more common in children than adults)

Most people who get sick with flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks.



Who should get the vaccine?

In B.C., the inactivated influenza vaccine or flu shot is provided free to the following groups of people. People at high risk of serious illness from influenza, such as:

  • Children 6 months to less than 5 years of age

  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy during the influenza season

  • Seniors 65 years and older

  • Residents of any age living in residential care, assisted living or other group facilities

  • Indigenous people

  • Children and teenagers required to take Aspirin® or ASA for long periods of time due to a medical condition

  • Children and adults with certain medical conditions, including:

    • Heart or lung disorders that require regular medical care, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cystic fibrosis

    • Kidney disease, chronic liver disease such as hepatitis, diabetes, cancer, anemia or weakened immune system

    • Those with health conditions causing difficulty breathing, swallowing or a risk of choking on food or fluids, such as people with severe brain damage, spinal cord injury, seizures or neuromuscular disorders

  • Those who are very obese

People able to transmit or spread influenza to those at high risk of serious illness from influenza including:

  • Household contacts of people at high risk

  • Household contacts, caregivers and daycare staff of children under 5 years of age

  • Doctors, nurses and others working in health care settings, including long-term care facilities, who have contact with patients

  • Visitors to health care facilities and other patient care locations

  • Inmates of provincial correctional institutions

  • Those who provide care or service to people at high risk in potential outbreak settings such as cruise ships

Other groups who are eligible to receive the flu shot for free include:

  • People who provide essential community services such as police officers, firefighters, ambulance attendants, and corrections workers

  • People who work with live poultry

To find out if you are eligible, talk to one of our pharmacists.  If you are not eligible for a free influenza vaccine, you can purchase it at Columbia Street Pharmacy.

HealthLinkBC File #12e Live Attenuated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine



Ensure to get it every year

Flu viruses are constantly changing, so new vaccines are made each year to protect against the flu viruses that are likely to cause the most illness. Also, protection provided by flu vaccination wears off over time. Your flu vaccine will protect against flu all season, but you
will need a vaccine again next flu season for best protection against flu.