Guest Post: Provincial Influenza Immunization Campaign- What You Need to Know
Influenza, often called the flu, is an infection of the upper airway caused by an influenza virus.
Getting sick with influenza also puts you at risk of 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.
Each year, thousands of people in Canada are hospitalized and may die from influenza and its complications.
The best way to protect yourself against influenza and reduce the spread of the virus to others, is by getting vaccinated.
Getting a Flu Shot
In BC, influenza vaccines are provided free to people who are at high risk of serious illness from influenza (such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions), those able to transmit or spread influenza to those at high risk, and people who provide essential community services.
- For a list of people eligible for a free inactivated influenza vaccine, see the HealthLinkBC File: Inactivated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine
- For a list of people eligible for the free live attenuated influenza vaccine, see the HealthLinkBC File: Live Attenuated Influenza (Flu) Vaccine
- Anyone who is not eligible for a free influenza vaccine can purchase it at most pharmacies and travel clinics.
To find the nearest flu shot clinic, call HealthLink BC at 811 or visit the Influenza Clinic Finder at: www.immunizebc.ca/clinics/flu
Pharmacists authorized to administer injections can help immunize patients against influenza.
As of 2017, there are now more than 4,600 pharmacists across BC authorized to administer injections (including the flu shot).
Pharmacists with this authority follow the Standards, Limits and Conditions for Drug Administration by Injection and Intranasal Route set out by the College of Pharmacists of BC to safely administer flu shots.
Resources for Pharmacists Authorized to Administer Injections
Pharmacists authorized to administer injections are invited to participate in the 2017–18 Provincial Influenza Immunization Campaign by helping immunize people across BC.
Use the following information on publically funded vaccines, products and patient eligibility, and Influenza vaccination logistics to help immunize your patients.
Pharmacist administration of publicly funded vaccines
- Pharmacists can request a supply of publicly funded influenza vaccines for administration to eligible BC residents from their local health unit.
- The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), recommends the seasonal influenza vaccines and provides the vaccines free to individuals who meet their eligibility criteria.
- For BC residents aged 5 years and older who meet the BCCDC criteria, PharmaCare will pay a $10 fee to the pharmacy for administering the injection.
- At this time, PharmaCare does not pay a fee for intra-nasal vaccine administration.
- Pharmacists must administer injections according to the College of Pharmacists of BC Standards, Limits and Conditions.
- Pharmacists must refer all patients who meet the BCCDC eligibility criteria - but who are not BC residents - to a local health unit, who determines if they are eligible for vaccination at no cost.
- BC residents ineligible for publicly funded vaccines may purchase influenza vaccine and pay administration fees, to have the vaccine administered by an authorized pharmacist. Some private drug plans may also cover vaccine costs.
Products and patient eligibility
The influenza vaccines that are publicly funded in BC for the 2017/18 influenza season are:
- Flulaval® Tetra
- Flumist® Quadrivalent PharmaCare does not pay an administration fee for FluMist
- Fluzone® Quadrivalent
BCCDC provides guidance on the intended use of these vaccines by age group. Individual health authorities may provide additional guidance on appropriate vaccines for specific sub-groups of patients; please check with local health units for more details. (Note that according to the College of Pharmacists of BC Standards, Limits and Conditions, practicing pharmacists may not administer injections to children under the age of 5.)
Details on patient eligibility criteria and specific influenza vaccine products are provided in the BCCDC Immunization guidelines: Part 4 – Biological Products.
Influenza vaccination logistics
- Coordination of Influenza Vaccination Clinics: Pharmacists planning vaccination clinics are encouraged to coordinate their pharmacy-based clinics with those organized by local health units. This coordination helps the local health unit manage vaccine supply issues, avoids clinic scheduling conflicts, and increases the vaccination clinic times and options available to the public.
- When Ordering Influenza Vaccine: To reduce vaccine wastage, pharmacists are requested to order only as many doses as they expect to administer, and to reorder as necessary. Local health units will do their best to fill pharmacy requests for vaccines while balancing all other requests and their own clinic needs.
- Influenza Vaccine Return Procedures: Unused seasonal influenza vaccine is usually “harvested” in May after the provincial flu campaign has ended. All expired and unused publicly funded influenza vaccines should be returned to the local health unit from which they originated. Health units will notify pharmacies of the return procedures.
- Influenza Vaccine Administration Reports: Pharmacists are required to complete forms indicating the number of doses of publicly funded influenza vaccine administered, and submit them to their local health unit. Please contact your local health unit for details. The information in these reports is used to track vaccine utilization rates and assist in forecasting the number of vaccine doses required for the next flu vaccination campaign.
- Immunize BC – Influenza
- BC Pharmacy Association – Influenza
- ImmunizeBC Flu Locator
- Pharmacists & Publicly Funded Vaccines in B.C.–General Information
- BCCDC 2017/18 Seasonal Influenza Vaccines
Pharmacists and Immunization Working Group
Pharmacists and Immunization Working Group (PIWG) is a working group of the British Columbia Immunization Committee (BCIC) which provides authorized pharmacists with timely and convenient access to general information for accessing and administering publicly funded vaccine to eligible BC residents. PIWG membership includes representatives from the College of Pharmacists of BC, the BC Centre for Disease Control, the BC Pharmacy Association, each regional health authority, First Nations Health Authority, and the BC Ministry of Health.