Influenza (Flu)

Updated on Oct. 13, 2022

What is Influenza?

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

How does flu spread?

Flu spreads person-to-person primarily from the airborne particles generated by coughing and sneezing, as well as by physical contact.

What are the symptoms of flu?

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than those of the common cold. Symptoms typically develop one day to seven days after exposure, and can last from a few days to two weeks. They may include any or all of the following:

  • Fever or feeling feverish, often with chills
  • Body aches or muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, more commonly in children

How much are flu shots?

Since 2021, publicly funded influenza vaccines are free for all British Columbians ages 6 months and older.

Where can I get a flu shot?

Almost 1,300 community pharmacies across British Columbia are offering influenza vaccines for the 2022/2023 flu season. If you are registered with the Province's Get Vaccinated system, you should be receiving an invitation to book your appointment. To register visit Get Vaccinated or call 1-833-838-2323.

What if I get the flu?

If you get the flu, stay home. It is important to keep your immune system as healthy as possible with plenty of sleep, fluids, proper nutrition and as needed, over the counter pain relief such as acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen for fever and body aches. Avoid alcohol and tobacco. If you are in the at-risk group or have questions about complications of influenza, contact your doctor.

How can I prevent the spread of flu?

Wash your hands frequently, cough or sneeze into your arm (not your hands) and try to minimize or avoid contact with others who appear ill. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth unless your hands are clean.