VANCOUVER, B.C. – Since B.C. first began offering influenza vaccines this fall, over 340,000 doses have been administered to adults and children in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region. As the influenza virus has arrived in B.C., VCH Medical Health Officers are issuing a reminder to the public to prioritize influenza vaccination ahead of the holiday season. This year, VCH COVID-19 booster clinics are serving as influenza clinics, along with community pharmacies and many family physician and nurse practitioner offices.
In B.C., everyone six months and older is recommended to get an annual influenza vaccine, especially those at greatest risk from infection including children under five years of age, adults 65 years and older, pregnant people and those with some chronic conditions.
“As we approach the holiday season, we understand people are busier making social plans with family and friends. Getting up-to-date immunizations is both free and easy to coordinate. We strongly recommend those eligible, especially those at greatest risk of serious infection, book their appointment or based on availability, drop-in to a local clinic as soon as possible, as it takes about two weeks for the vaccination to be fully effective,” said Dr. Meena Dawar, VCH Medical Health Officer.
“Parents and guardians can also rest assured that many of our clinics welcome infants six months and older and young children. We would like to ensure as many infants and children as possible are vaccinated to prevent serious illness and avoidable disruptions to school and recreational activities, which are so important for their health and wellbeing. As a reminder, children under nine years of age who receive their first dose of influenza vaccine ever, need a second dose following a four-week interval. Those children who received influenza vaccination in past years require only a single dose,” continued Dr. Dawar.
While influenza infections were low in B.C. over the last two years, a higher number of infections have been reported to date in B.C. this fall, indicating a return to a typical influenza season. For some individuals at higher risk, an influenza infection can result in serious illness which can result in hospitalization or prove life-threatening. Prior to the pandemic, influenza infection was responsible for approximately 12,000 hospitalizations and 2,500 deaths each year in Canada. In addition to protecting your own health, getting vaccinated can protect those around you and reduce visits to hospital emergency departments.
VCH advises anyone with questions about the influenza vaccine to speak to their family doctor, nurse practitioner, or to call 8-1-1 for free healthcare guidance. For guidance on booking your vaccination appointment at a COVID-19 booster clinic or pharmacy, visit the Government of B.C.’s website. Alternatively, contact your family physician or nurse practitioner office for an appointment.