As the winter season and its colder temperatures arrive, cold and flu season sneaks up right alongside it. Public health officials are encouraging families to get themselves vaccinated against influenza. Officials say many people, especially children, have not been exposed to the flu and other respiratory illnesses following two years of low influenza rates due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, making the need for vaccination even greater.

Immunizations in B.C. are free-of-charge for everyone six months of age or older. Younger children that have never received an influenza vaccine require two doses, and those over two years of age have the option of the traditional shot or a nasal spray alternative. Officials said that vaccination is especially important heading into the holiday season, often a time of gathering with family and friends.

“As we head into the holiday season, I strongly encourage families and caregivers to get their children vaccinated against influenza, especially if they’re planning to spend time with elderly loved ones,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer. 

“I know families are busy, especially at this time of year, but it is important to make this part of your plans. To help, we are making it even easier to get your child immunized in the coming days. This helps ensure everyone can stay healthy and enjoy the festivities.”

A number of local pharmacies offer the flu shot in Merritt, but many are low on supplies or out of the vaccine altogether due to a supply shortage. Due to the dynamic nature of the situation, locals are encouraged to call pharmacies for up to date stock information. The Nicola Valley Hospital’s public health office held a vaccination clinic last week as part of a province-wide immunizations blitz that saw over 77,000 vaccinated against influenza.

The next vaccination clinic will be held at the hospital’s public health office, located at 3451 Voght Street, on December 15 from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Appointments are available online through the Get Vaccinated system, and drop-in slots are first come first served. Families are encouraged to bring their children to get vaccinated, with officials adding that uptake for children has been low.

“Since it began in October, we have had a very enthusiastic response to the influenza campaign,” said Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead for B.C.’s vaccine operations program. 

“At health authority clinics, community pharmacies, and health-care provider offices, we’ve vaccinated over 1.5 million people, but the uptake has been low for children. We would like to invite all parents and caregivers of children who have not received the influenza vaccine to register their kids in the Get Vaccinated system and book an appointment.”

For more information, or to register for influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations, visit