Cold & Flu
The flu program makes vaccination convenient for BC Public Service employees. If you work for the BC Public Service, the flu vaccination is free during flu season. Clinics are held from the end of October to early December.
About the Flu
The flu is a common upper respiratory illness that is highly contagious. Symptoms include fever, body aches, headache, fatigue, runny nose, loss of appetite, cough or sore throat. Fever and other symptoms usually last seven to ten days with the cough and weakness lasting up to two more weeks.
The flu spreads rapidly from person to person by airborne droplets carried in a cough or a sneeze. You can also get the flu when touching your own eyes, nose or mouth after touching flu contaminated surfaces, including an infected person's hands.
The Flu Vaccine
Vaccination is recommended during October to December so the vaccine's protective antibodies are in place before flu activity peaks, typically in February. The duration of the flu season varies each year but can run as late as May. Because the vaccine is most effective for a six-month period, our clinics are scheduled for the best flu protection.
The vaccine components often change from year to year, based on worldwide tracking for changes in the virus and predictions about which strains will circulate each season. This year’s vaccine is different from last year’s. During 2016 we were administering an inactivated vaccine (killed virus) that provides protection against the following three influenza viruses:
- A/California (H1N1)
- A/Hong Kong (H3N2)
To maximize your protection, get vaccinated each year as the specific viruses included in each vaccine vary. The effectiveness of the vaccine will also lessen over time and may not span two flu seasons.
Who Should Get the Flu Shot?
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization continues to recommend that with the exception of those with hypersensitivity to eggs or egg products, everyone over six-months-old should get a flu vaccine.
The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing problems from the flu. This includes adults and children who have long-term health problems, pregnant women, or those in contact with or caring for individuals who are at high risk for complications. For a full list of those who are considered to be at higher risk, check the HealthLinkBC website.
Once vaccinated, be sure to request a proof of influenza vaccination card from the provider upon vaccination. If you plan on visiting a health care facility or other patient care location, you may be expected to wear a mask if you did not get a flu shot.
Egg Allergic Individuals
If you have an egg allergy and need more information
If you are still unsure if you can receive the flu vaccine, talk to your health care provider if you have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the influenza vaccine or to eggs or any other component of the vaccine.
Benefits & Risks
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to help stay healthy, prevent illness and protect yourself and others. When you get the flu shot, your body's immune system develops protection (antibodies) against the strains of the virus in the vaccine so that you are better protected against influenza than those who do not get the flu vaccine.
Antibodies help prevent infection or reduce the severity of the illness. If the strains in the vaccine are well-matched to the strains of influenza virus circulating in the community, the vaccine prevents flu in more than seven out of 10 vaccinated persons. As a result, your time spent being ill from the flu is either eliminated or greatly reduced.
In some cases, people may experience redness or soreness where the flu shot was given. Other symptoms may include localized swelling, fever, headache and aching muscles approximately six to twelve hours after receiving the immunization. Anaphylaxis is a rare and extreme allergic reaction which can occur if a person is allergic to any of the components of the vaccine.
Cold & Flu Prevention
Eating balanced meals, exercising regularly and keeping a positive frame of mind goes a long way toward improving our flu immunity. To create a healthy workplace, use these best practices to prevent cold and flu:
- Use a tissue and discard immediately
- Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly
- Get a flu shot
- Stay home if you get sick