Health-care facility visitors should now be vaccinated

Masks will be available, free of charge, for those who have not been vaccinated

Ministry of Health

As of Dec. 1, 2014, all visitors to provincial health-care facilities – including long-term care homes – are asked to be vaccinated against influenza, or to wear a mask while visiting, to help protect those most vulnerable from influenza. This policy first took effect last year, to help protect patients and seniors who are most at risk of complications from the flu.

Anyone who enters a hospital, long-term care facility or any other health-care facility will be expected to wear a mask if they haven’t been vaccinated against influenza. Masks will be available, free of charge, for those who have not been vaccinated.

Visitors join health-care workers, volunteers and contractors in their efforts to protect patient safety through this comprehensive influenza prevention strategy. The best way for visitors to help protect their loved ones in hospitals, long-term care facilities and other health- care facilities is to get vaccinated.

If you do plan on visiting someone in one of these facilities, or if you take family members to outpatient appointments, you are eligible for a free flu shot. Flu shots are available at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and public health clinics.

Visitors will be asked to comply with this policy on the honour system. Flu shots are also offered for free in B.C. to a number of individuals, including children, seniors, pregnant women, Aboriginal people, individuals with chronic health conditions, and those who work or come in close contact with higher-risk groups. Each year, about 3,500 Canadians die from influenza or its complications – it can be a very serious illness, particularly for people at an increased risk of complications (like those who are patients or residents in health-care facilities).

The influenza vaccine is safe and effective at preventing illness when used in conjunction with other infection control practices, such as hand washing and remaining home when sick. For more information about influenza and vaccination clinics, visit: