Real estate agent Michael Tremblay has been getting flu shots for as long as he remembers. He's a big believer in the proactive medication — he hasn't had flu symptoms since he started getting annual influenza vaccinations.
"I always try to take it in November," said the former pulp mill worker.
He gets the inoculation because he doesn't like to miss work.
"I'm one of those case studies where I haven't had the flu," Tremblay said from his office on Monday.
According to Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), between 4,000 and 8,000 people die each year in Canada from influenza. The health agency is encouraging people to get a shot because influenza and its complications cause more deaths among vaccine-preventable diseases than all the other illnesses combined.
Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Martiquet said in a news release that getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent catching the flu.
"Influenza is highly contagious and can cause serious complications for the very young, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions," said Martiquet. "You can spread influenza for up to 24 hours before you have any symptoms, so you can pass the flu on to your family and friends before you even know you are sick."
While the provincial government is encouraging B.C. residents to get flu shots doubters are pushing for more holistic approaches to flu prevention.
According to the Vaccination Risk Awareness Network (VRAN), there's growing evidence indicating vaccines can damage a child's developing immune system and brain, leading to debilitating and life-threatening disorders.
VRAN claims vaccine safety has never been proven. The group is critical of the process used to study vaccines.
Kids from six months to five years of age, people 65-years and older, pregnant women, aboriginal people, people with chronic health conditions and those with compromised immune systems across the province get access to free influenza shots in B.C.
Family doctors and local pharmacists have more information on where and when shots are available.