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Flu shots & flu clinics

Why get a flu shot?  The reasons are all around you. 

Now more than ever, getting a flu shot is an important step to protect yourself and those around you.

A flu shot can reduce your chance of developing symptoms that resemble COVID-19 which would require you to get tested and self-isolate. This can increase wait times at testing centres as well as test results and can delay the identification of COVID-19 cases.

Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others against influenza, especially when used with other infection prevention practices such as proper hand hygiene and staying home from work or school when sick, even with mild symptoms.

Where you can get a flu shot

  • VCH Public Health clinics

  • Your family doctor

  • Walk-in clinics

  • Your pharmacist

  • Urgent & primary care centres

Find a location

Appointments are strongly recommended this year to help us maintain physical distancing and to reduce wait times.

Your health and safety are important to us and we have COVID-19 infection prevention measures and protocols at all our clinic spaces. 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

Take the COVID-19 self-assessment

Questions about the flu

If there was ever a time to consider getting a flu shot, this is the year, because this influenza season coincides with a global COVID-19 pandemic. A flu shot can reduce your chance of developing symptoms that resemble COVID-19 which would require you to get tested and self-isolate. This can increase wait times at testing centres as well as test results and can delay the identification of COVID-19 cases.

Influenza is also a severe illness, especially for the very young, seniors 65 years old and older, pregnant women, Indigenous people, youth and adults with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems. The illness is more than the common cold and the virus can lead to symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and cough. Complications from influenza can lead to hospitalization or even death. On average, approximately 12,000 people are hospitalized in Canada and 3,500 die from complications of influenza every year.

Due to the COVID-19 situation this year, the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age. We are all in this together and it's especially important this year to help fight the flu, so we can be healthy and help keep each other healthy.

 

While the flu vaccine won't protect you from COVID-19, it will help to keep you healthy this winter and reduce the risk of getting both illnesses at the same time, and possibly keep you out of the hospital. A flu shot can also reduce your chance of developing symptoms that resemble COVID-19 which would require you to get tested and self-isolate. This can increase wait times at testing centres as well as test results and can delay the identification of COVID-19 cases.

 

People should consider getting a flu shot annually in the fall. Appointment bookings are available now and most immunizations take place starting in mid-October until mid-December.

 

The flu vaccine is provided for free in B.C. to people who are at high risk of serious illness from influenza (such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions) and those able to transmit or spread influenza to those at high risk. Most people are eligible for a publicly funded vaccine, because they either fall into the risk category or is in contact with someone who is at risk. For the small group of people who may not be eligible for publicly funded vaccine, it can be purchased at a pharmacy or a travel clinic. 

 

The flu vaccine is available to anyone and free to almost everyone.  Specifically, the vaccine is free for people at high risk of getting severe influenza illness or those who have contact with those people:

  • People 65 years and older.

  • Residents of nursing homes and other care facilities.

  • Healthy children age six months to five years of age.

  • Children and adults with chronic health conditions, including pregnant women and their household contacts.

  • Household contacts and caregivers of infants age zero to 59 months.

  • Aboriginal peoples (on and off reserve).

  • People in contact with those at high risk of severe influenza (as above): household contacts, health care providers, visitors to health care facilities.

  • Essential community service workers (Police, fire fighters, paramedics and correction workers).

The flu vaccine is usually 50-70 per cent effective in preventing the illness but can also help reduce the severity of disease symptoms. This year's flu season will coincide with the global COVID-19 pandemic, so a flu shot will help reduce your chance of developing symptoms that resemble COVID-19 which would require you to get tested and self-isolate.

 

The best source of information on influenza can be found at HealthLink BC's website or by calling 811.

 

Questions about booking an appointment

Appointments are strongly recommended this year to help us maintain physical distancing and to reduce wait times.

If you book an appointment, then your wait time should be minimized, however, due to unforeseen circumstances we cannot guarantee that you will be seen at the exact time of your appointment.

 

Since there are COVID-19 protocols, such as physical distancing in place at flu clinics, it is safe to go and get your flu shot. All visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands upon arrival. We also ask people who have symptoms of COVID to not come to the immunization clinics until their illness has resolved.

Face coverings or masks are not required at public health clinics, however, if you wish to wear one, please do so.

 

If you are booking online and there are no more appointments available, you may be prompted to go onto a waiting list.  There are some other options available for getting a flu shot.  You can contact your family doctor, call the VCH Travel Clinic, go to a walk-in clinic or check with your local pharmacy. If you choose to drop in, we will do everything possible to accommodate you. Please be aware that wait times will vary, and there is a possibility that you might not be able to be seen. 

For some communities, such as Vancouver, there will be a number of clinics set up throughout the season, so you can continue to check the website for updates and new openings.

 

If you are unsure of where to get a flu shot, check the ImmunizeBC's Flu Clinic Finder to see where there's a clinic near you. Please note we have only listed clinics located in the Vancouver Health Region on our website, so if you are in another health region, you should try the Flu Clinic Finder to find the closest location.

COVID-19 protocols will be in place at flu clinics. This includes physical distancing, personal protective equipment for staff and enhanced cleaning. You will also be asked to sanitize your hands upon arrival, and before and after you get your flu shot.

Face coverings or masks are not required at public health clinics, however, if you wish to wear one, please do so.

If you book an appointment, then your wait time should be minimized, however, due to unforeseen circumstances we cannot guarantee that you will be seen at the exact time of your appointment.

 

Please do not come to a flu clinic if you are feeling unwell. You can cancel or reschedule your flu shot appointment. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, chills, muscle pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, headache, fatigue, runny nose, diarrhea or new loss of taste or smell), please take the COVID 19 self-assessment. You should also avoid the clinic if you've been near someone who is sick or has COVID-19 symptoms or have been asked by Public Health to self-isolate.

If you made an appointment by phone, please call the clinic. If you booked directly online, go to vch.ca/flu, choose your community and click "Book online." From there, you can log into the account you created to book your appointment and you will have the option to cancel or reschedule your appointment. If you are having difficulties, please call the clinic phone number listed on the web page that appears after you click "Book online."

 
 

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