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  • Influenza and COVID-19 Immunization

What is influenza?

Influenza often called the "flu," is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs. Many people use the term "flu" to refer to any illness caused by a virus, such as "stomach flu" or the common cold, which are different than influenza.

The flu is not always a harmless illness. It can cause serious health risks, including death. A person with influenza is also at risk of other infections. These include viral or bacterial pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.


Influenza symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness, and cough. Children may also experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms can begin about one to four days after a person is first exposed to the influenza virus. Fever and other symptoms may last up to seven to ten days, with the cough and weakness lasting up to two more weeks.

Who is at greatest risk? 

The risk of complications is more significant for pregnant women, seniors 65 years and older, young children, and people with lung or heart diseases, specific chronic health problems, or weakened immune systems.


Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu vaccine. All B.C. residents six months and older can get a free flu vaccine. 

It's especially important to get a flu vaccine if you're:

  • Under five years or over 65 years
  • Pregnant
  • Living in long-term care or assisted living
  • Immunocompromised or have a chronic illness

How to prevent the spread?

  • Wash your hands. Frequent hand washing can reduce the risk of all respiratory infections.
  • Cover your cough. You can also reduce the spread of germs by practicing safe coughing and sneezing techniques.
  • Stay at home. Anybody who thinks they have an influenza-like illness (i.e. fever and cough) should remain at home and limit exposure to others.

Get a flu vaccine

You can book your flu vaccine through the Get Vaccinated system. If you've received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in BC no action is required. We'll send you an email or SMS text when it's time to get your vaccine.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need to get the flu shot every year?

    Yes. Many studies have shown that people who receive the flu shot are better protected against seasonal influenza than those who are not vaccinated.

  • Can I get the flu from the vaccine?

    No. Most vaccines do not even contain the live virus. In rare cases, it can cause respiratory symptoms but it’s still better than getting the illness.

  • If I have an egg allergy, is it safe to get the flu shot?

    Yes. Vaccines contain minute quantities of ovalbumin that will not cause an allergic reaction.

More on this topic

Community vaccine provider resources

How infections are spread

Cover your cough and sneeze

VCH Public Health urges public to make influenza vaccine a priority ahead of holiday season