Influenza, also called the flu, is an infection of the upper airway caused by an influenza virus. Every year there is a period of time where there are more outbreaks of the flu, this is called flu season. Flu season generally occurs during the fall, winter and early spring.
Getting sick with the flu can put you at risk of getting other infections. These include viral or bacterial pneumonia which affect the lungs. The risk of complications, which can be life-threatening, is greater for seniors 65 years and older, very young children, and people who have lung or heart diseases, certain chronic health conditions, or weakened immune systems. In Canada, thousands of people are hospitalized and may die from the flu and its complications during years with widespread or epidemic influenza activity.
How can the flu be prevented?
The influenza vaccine is a safe and effective way to help you and your family stay healthy and prevent illness. It can even save lives.
In addition to getting the flu vaccine, you can help stop the spread of the flu by:
- Washing your hands regularly
- Promptly disposing of used tissues in the waste basket or garbage
- Coughing and sneezing into your shirt sleeve rather than your hands
- Staying home when you are ill
- Keeping your hands away from your face
- Keeping common surface areas, such as doorknobs, light switches, and keyboards, clean and disinfected
- Eating healthy foods and staying physically active to keep your immune system strong
What is in the flu vaccine?
The 2017-18 seasonal trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines contain:
- A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
- B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus
- B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (in quadrivalent vaccines only)
There are several inactivated influenza vaccines and a live attenuated influenza vaccine available in B.C. The inactivated vaccines are made of killed influenza viruses and are given by injection. The live attenuated influenza vaccine is made from weakened influenza viruses and is given as a nasal spray.
- Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine: Parents may have heard different reports about the live attenuated influenza vaccine (the nasal spray vaccine). Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization has reviewed the most recent research on the effectiveness of this vaccine and continues to recommend this vaccine as a safe and effective option for children 2 – 17 years of age.
- Fluzone® High-Dose: Fluzone® High-Dose (a high dose trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine) is approved for use in Canada for adults 65 years of age and older. This vaccine is not currently publicly funded in B.C.; however it will be available for purchase from pharmacies throughout B.C.
Important Vaccine Information
People with egg allergies can be safely immunized with the live and inactivated influenza vaccines.
To learn more about this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine, including who is eligible to receive the flu vaccines for free, visit ImmunizeBC - Influenza.
To learn about the flu, how it can be prevented, what the symptoms are, what the home treatments are, and more, click on the link below.
Influenza (Flu) Vaccinations
Influenza vaccines are a safe and effective way to help people stay healthy, prevent illness, and even save lives. To learn about the inactivated influenza vaccine, the live attenuated influenza vaccine, myths and facts about influenza immunization, and the benefits of getting the vaccine, click on the links below.
- Why Seniors Should Get the Inactivated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #12a)
- Influenza (Flu) Immunization: Myths and Facts (HealthLinkBC File #12c)
- Inactivated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #12d)
- Live Attenuated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #12e)
Pneumococcal infection is caused by a germ or bacteria. It can cause serious and life-threatening infections including meningitis, an infection of the lining that covers the brain, and septicemia, an infection of the blood. To learn more about the vaccines that can help protect against pneumococcal infection, click on the links below.
- Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV 13) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #62a)
- Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #62b)
Washing Your Hands
Hand washing is one of the best ways to keep yourself and others healthy. Regularly washing your hands can help stop the spread of germs that cause the flu. To learn more, click on the link below.
Your Health Authority
To learn more about flu related information and services in your area, visit your Health Authority website listed below.
- First Nations Health Authority: Influenza (Flu) Information
- Fraser Health: Flu Shots
- Interior Health: Influenza (Flu) Info
- Island Health: Influenza (Flu)
- Northern Health: Influenza (Flu) Information
- Vancouver Coastal Health: Flu Shots & Flu Clinics
For Health Care Workers
B.C. has an Influenza Prevention Policy to protect high risk people from influenza. Health care workers are required to be immunized against influenza or wear a mask when they are in patient care areas during the influenza season. This section provides information and resources related to the influenza prevention policy for health care workers. The links and subsequent information are for your general information, please speak to your supervisor if you are a health care worker on how this programs applies to your facility or role.
- Influenza Prevention Policy
- Influenza Control Program: Frequently Asked Questions – Influenza Vaccine
- Influenza Control Program: Frequently Asked Questions – Wearing a Mask
ImmunizeBC works to improve the health of British Columbians and reduce the number of infections by vaccine-preventable diseases by providing information on immunizations to individuals, families, and health care providers. They also provide tools to make it easier for B.C. families to get immunized. For information on where you can locate flu clinics across the province, or to learn more about the flu and the flu vaccine, click on the links below.
Government of Canada
Get answers to many questions related to the seasonal flu. Understanding the seasonal flu, including the health complications the flu can cause and who is at risk, can help you protect yourself and your family from becoming sick with the flu.
Last Reviewed: October 26, 2017