Populations at risk

The following groups of people are at high risk of serious illness from the flu and are eligible for a free flu vaccine in BC:

  • Children 6 months to less than five years of age

  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy during the influenza season

  • Seniors 65 years and older

  • Residents of any age living in residential care, assisted living or other group facilities

  • Indigenous people

  • Children and teenagers required to take Aspirin® or ASA for long periods of time due to a medical condition

  • Children and adults with certain medical conditions, including:

    • Heart or lung disorders that require regular medical care, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cystic fibrosis

    • Kidney disease, chronic liver disease such as hepatitis, diabetes, cancer, anemia or weakened immune system

    • Those with health conditions causing difficulty breathing, swallowing or a risk of choking on food or fluids, such as people with severe brain damage, spinal cord injury, seizures or neuromuscular disorders

  • Those who are very obese

  • People who provide essential community services such as police officers, firefighters, ambulance attendants, and corrections workers

  • People who work with live poultry

If you are not eligible for a free influenza vaccine:

You can buy it at most pharmacies and travel clinics. Some employers also provide free vaccine to employees. To find out if you are eligible, talk to your health care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.

Possible complications from the flu

If you are young and healthy, the flu usually is not serious. Although you may feel miserable while you have it, the flu usually goes away in a week or two with no lasting effects. But children and adults at high risk may develop complications that may include:

  • Pneumonia

  • Bronchitis

  • Asthma flare-ups

  • Heart problems

  • Ear infections

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Pneumonia is one of the most serious complications. For older adults and people with a chronic illness, pneumonia can be deadly.

Page Last Updated: 26/01/2021