Cold & Flu
There is a Province-wide vaccine shortage. We can’t take new appointments for the Cold & Flu clinics but all previously scheduled appointments and clinics will go ahead. Look for updates on this page.
If you work for the BC Public Service, the flu vaccination is free during flu season. The program is a convenient way for employees to get vaccinated by offering workplace flu clinics during the work day. Contractors who work with BC Public Service employees are also eligible.
Am I Eligible for a Free Flu Shot?
In British Columbia, the seasonal flu vaccine is provided free of charge to many people:
- People 65 and older and their caregivers
- Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts
- Health care workers
- Emergency responders
- Children from 6 months of age up to 5 years old
- Household contacts and caregivers of children from birth up to 5 years of age
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
- Owners and operators of poultry farms
- Aboriginal peoples
- People who are very obese (those with a body mass index of 40 or greater)
- Corrections officers and inmates in provincial correctional institutions.
- Those who provide care or service in potential outbreak settings housing high risk persons (e.g. crew on ships)
- Visitors to healthcare facilities
If eligible, you can access a free flu shot through a local health unit, pharmacy or family doctor.
About the Flu
The flu is a common upper respiratory illness that's 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.
Clinics are underway at worksites across the Province. They began in mid-October and will run until early December.
Your worksite contact will have sent out information about your clinic via e-mail. If you are unsure who your worksite contact is, please refer to the 2019 Clinic Schedule in the Resources and Links section of this page. If you are unable to attend your regularly scheduled clinic or are seeking another flu clinic date, time, or location, please visit the online booking site. All employees must book their appointment online; nurses providing flu shots at your clinic will bring vaccine and allocate time based on the number of people who have signed up in advance.
Step-by-step instructions on how to use the online booking site are in the "Resources & Links" section of this page. If you experience difficulties with the booking process, please contact HealthServ directly by calling 1-800-270-8048, extension 225.
The online scheduling application requires your name, phone number, and government email address. This information is collected by the BC Public Service Agency under section 26(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the purpose of booking your flu vaccination appointment. Should you have any questions about the collection of this personal information please contact Moira Lee.
The Flu Vaccine
The vaccine components often change from year to year. These changes are based on worldwide tracking for changes in the virus and predictions about which strains will circulate each season. The flu vaccine to be administered in our clinics in 2019 is an inactivated vaccine (killed virus) that provides protection against the following three influenza viruses:
- A/Brisbane (H1N1)
- A/Kansas (H3N2)
To maximize your protection, get vaccinated each year as the specific viruses included in each vaccine vary. The vaccine becomes less effective 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 everyone six months old and older should get a flu vaccine (except those with egg allergies combined with other condition(s). The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing problems from the flu, including 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, please check the HealthLink BC website.
If you plan on visiting a health care facility or other patient care location, you may be expected to wear a mask if you didn't get a flu shot. Be sure to request a proof of influenza vaccination card from the nurse upon vaccination.
Egg Allergic Individuals
If you have an egg allergy or have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the influenza vaccine and are unsure if you can receive the flu vaccine, speak to your health care provider.
For more information
Read HealthLinkBC files #11.7
- For a confidential inquiry
- Email a HealthServ nurse
- Call a HealthServ nurse at 1-866-663-5848, ext. 232
During our flu clinics, the vaccine will be available to pregnant employees that are seeking to be immunized for influenza. Please note that pregnant employees in their first trimester will be asked to provide a physician’s note at the clinic prior to being vaccinated.
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.
The 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 all go 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