Yes, it’s that time again: the season for respiratory illnesses. In BC, we expect that COVID-19 cases will increase as more people gather indoors. We are also preparing for the possibility of a surge in influenza cases, after two years of low influenza rates due to public health restrictions that reduced travel and socialization.
Can you get your COVID-19 booster AND a flu shot?
We have already begun providing fall COVID-19 booster doses, using the new Moderna bivalent vaccine, which now also includes protection against the Omicron variant. Invitations have been sent to people who had their last COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago. They are being distributed in priority order based on age and risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19.
The annual influenza vaccine campaign will begin at all BC pharmacies on October 11. If you have already scheduled a COVID-19 booster shot appointment for October 11 or later, we will be able to provide you with both vaccines during the same appointment. If you have will not receive an invitation for the fall COVID-19 booster shot by October 11, you can book an appointment for the flu shot only.
Which vaccines are available at our pharmacy?
We have several COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer monovalent (original), Moderna bivalent (new version), and Janssen (a single dose vaccine for individuals who chose not to get the two-dose mRNA primary series). The Pfizer bivalent vaccine is not yet available, but we will have it as soon as it is available, hopefully by mid-October.
There are four publicly funded flu vaccines this year:
- Flumist® – intranasal vaccine intended for individuals 2-17 years of age
- Fluzone® – injectable vaccine for individuals aged 6 months and older
- FluAd® – specifically for individuals aged 65 and older
- FluAd® High-Dose – specifically for individuals aged 65 and older living in long-term care, assisted living facilities and First Nations communities
All injectable vaccines contain inactivated virus particles. Flumist® is a live vaccine. It contains a weakened strain of the flu virus and could potentially be transmitted to another person through contact with respiratory secretions. Children may receive either intranasal Flumist® or injectable Fluzone®, depending on their age and situation.
This year, anyone 65 years of age or older can get an enhanced influenza vaccine. Adjuvanted (enhanced) influenza vaccines stimulate stronger immune responses, which compensate for the weakening of the immune system that occurs naturally as we get older. FluAd® gives seniors better protection than standard vaccines.
How can you book your appointment?
You will now be able to book your flu vaccine through the provincial Get Vaccinated system, just like booking COVID-19 vaccines. This allows you to book at a time and location that is convenient for you. We have been told that everyone will receive an invitation for a flu shot. If you have any trouble booking your appointment, please call the COVID Call Centre at 1-833-838-2323 for assistance.
In addition, we have set aside Friday, October 21 and Monday, October 24 exclusively for flu shots. Book one of these appointments by calling us directly at (250) 338-4790. See you soon!