Flu Season and the Role of BC's Pharmacists in Vaccine Administration
The Influenza virus is responsible for more Canadian fatalities per year than all other vaccine-preventable illnesses combined. Every year, thousands of British Columbians are afflicted by the virus, usually between the months of November and March during what most of us refer to as “Flu Season.”
The best way to protect yourself against influenza and reduce the spread of the virus, is by getting vaccinated.
Did you know that community pharmacies provide the most easily accessible influenza vaccine administration available in BC?
As this year’s flu season comes to a close, here’s everything you need to know about the virus and how BC’s Certified Injection Pharmacists can provide you with convenient access to immunization next year.
Influenza, more commonly referred to as ‘the flu,’ is an infection of the upper airway caused by the influenza virus. The virus can cause mild to severe illness, hospitalization and even death in those infected, and while certain groups are at higher risk, everyone is susceptible. The Influenza virus is highly contagious, and spread by the transmission of droplets through coughing, sneezing and close contact with infected people.
Common Influenza symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Research is conducted every year to determine which strains of the Influenza virus will be most commonly circulated during the upcoming flu season. Because circulating viruses are known to change from year to year, it is important that everyone over 6 months of age get vaccinated once every year.
The Influenza vaccines contains inactivated or weakened forms of the circulating viruses causing the body to produce antibodies which provide protection against infection from live and active flu viruses.
There are 2 main types of influenza vaccines available:
Inactivated influenza vaccine
The inactivated influenza vaccine contains dead influenza viruses and is administered by injection. This vaccine is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older.
Live attenuated influenza vaccine
The live attenuated influenza vaccine, also known as FluMist®, contains weakened influenza viruses and is administered intranasally into both nostrils. This vaccine is approved for use in people 2-59 years of age and is provided for free in BC to eligible children and youth 2-17 years of age.
Free Vaccination for BC Residents
BC residents at high risk of serious illness from influenza, as well as those with the potential to transmit or spread influenza to those at high risk are eligible to receive free vaccinations. Visit the links below to find out who is eligible for the 2 main types of influenza vaccination.
Community Pharmacies and Certified Injection Pharmacists
As of 2016, there are now more than 3,600 Registered Injection Pharmacists able to provide immunizations such as the flu vaccine in BC. Approximately 95% of pharmacies have at least one certified injection pharmacist on-site, and with over 1,200 registered Community Pharmacies currently operating in BC, they are one of the most accessible options for protecting yourself against the annual flu virus.
The legislated standards for drug administration by injection are outlined in the Health Professions Act Bylaws Schedule F – Part 4 – Certified Practice – Drug Administration by Injection and Intranasal Route Standards, Limits and Conditions.
In addition to providing convenient vaccination sites, community pharmacies are a major resource during flu season, offering immunization education, and over-the-counter medication to help with flu or cold symptoms.
Visit your closest community pharmacy for more information on pharmacist administered flu vaccinations or take a look at Immunize BC’s Influenza Clinic Locator for your nearest public vaccination clinic.