The flu vaccine is now available at clinics and pharmacies across B.C., and the province is urging people to get theirs early.
“The flu is a highly contagious disease from which people can take actions to protect themselves,” said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall in a release issued Wednesday.
“Getting your flu shot early and washing your hands frequently can help protect yourself, and others, from contracting and spreading the flu.”
While most people will have to pay to get their flu shot, it’s free for the following people:
- children between six months and five years old;
- seniors 65 and older
- pregnant women
- Indigenous people
- people with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems
- anyone who lives with any of these people
- visitors to long-term care facilities and hospitals
In 2014, a particularly virulent strain of the H1N1 flu virus caused shortages in the flu vaccine.
The health ministry said it did not anticipate any such shortages this year.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, 1.53 million doses of the vaccine have been purchased so far for the 2017/18 season.
The purchase amounts are based on the orders submitted by each health authority in the province.
That’s up slightly from the 1.47 million doses purchased last winter. During the H1N1 flu season in 2014, a record 1.4 million flu shots were dispensed.
The CDC said there have been slightly more flu-like illnesses reported in the past two weeks than is normal for this time of year.