Pandemics have been recorded every ten to forty years dating back to the 1600s, and likely long before then.  There were three during the last century.  In the 1918-19, the "Spanish flu", over 20 million people died worldwide.  The last pandemic that happened was called the "Hong Kong flu”, it occurred in 1968.


British Columbia is working with provincial, national and international partners to plan and prepare for a possible influenza pandemic.  This website provides information and tips to help individuals, local governments and businesses plan for an influenza pandemic, including public information materials, contacts and informational links.

How it starts

Influenza viruses constantly change and produce new strains.  A pandemic starts if a new influenza virus emerges.

In order to become a pandemic virus, an animal virus, usually an avian (bird) virus must mutate or mix with a human influenza virus and become able to spread from person to person.  A pandemic influenza virus can spread quickly because it is new and most people have no immunity.

Pandemic influenza is likely to be more severe than seasonal influenza. The groups or individuals at greatest risk will not be known until the pandemic spreads.

Pandemic influenza is expected to occur in waves, and may hit individual communities at different times.  It could affect a community for a period of several weeks, then subside, and reappear again several months later.  There could be up to three waves of pandemic influenza in B.C. before the pandemic is finished. 

A vaccine can be researched and made only after the new virus is identified. Antiviral treatment or drugs may be available during a pandemic, but they may be in limited supply, and their effectiveness against the pandemic strain is not yet known.


Surveillance and Monitoring

The World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for global surveillance of influenza virus.  It has 115 National Influenza Centers in 84 countries to monitor influenza activity and isolate viruses. They have established six phases to define the onset of a pandemic and help guide governments in their planning.

The identification of a new influenza virus that spreads to humans will lead the WHO to declare a pandemic.  In B.C., the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) will help determine whether a pandemic has arrived in the province and inform British Columbians.

The BCCDC compiles outbreak reports, information on influenza from physicians, and laboratory reporting.  Influenza surveillance reports are provided to Health Authorities and health professionals across B.C. on a regular basis.


Be Prepared

Experts believe that we should be ready for pandemic influenza to emerge at any time, since it may not follow the pattern of the seasonal influenza and could occur at any time of the year. Although no one knows for sure when the next pandemic may take place, it's important to be prepared:

Stay informed - Get news updates and visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website.
Get an annual influenza vaccine - If you're at risk of serious illness and eligible for the free influenza vaccine, make sure you get it every year.  Influenza vaccine clinics begin each year in the fall. Free vaccinations are available to high-risk groups in B.C.
Prevent influenza - For tips on how to protect yourself and others from pandemic influenza, see the Self-Care During an Influenza Pandemic Health File.
Keep an emergency supply kit on hand - Have an emergency kit and at a minimum a 72-hour supply of food and water for each person and animal in your household.
For information on when to see your doctor during a pandemic, refer to when to Get Medical Help.
Get health information and advice - Call your doctor, local public health unit, or the BC Nurse Line. Anywhere in the province, call BC Nurse Line to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours or a pharmacist from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. every day.  Translation services are available in over 130 languages.

Call toll-free in BC 1-866-215-4700
In Greater Vancouver 604-215-4700

Deaf and hearing-impaired 1-866-889-4700

What to Expect

The pandemic influenza is expected to result in pressures and disruptions to the health system, other sectors and services, and society in general. Here’s what can be expected:

Essential health care services will continue in communities and cities but could be at reduced levels
Special clinics or services may be set up for people with pandemic influenza or those at high risk.
People will be encouraged to stay home from work when ill to stop the spread of illness or care for family members. If you need assistance managing influenza symptoms for your family, consult your BC Health Guide handbook or call the BC Nurse Line.
Public facilities and services may be affected, such as schools, transportation, or food or water supplies.
The provincial government is working with local governments, health authorities, and business and commerce to help for a future influenza pandemic.  For more information, see Health Authorities, Local Governments or Industry and Commerce


Invermere Health Unit       

Box 157, 850-10th Avenue

Invermere, BC V0A 1K0   


Phone: (250) 342-2360

Fax: (250) 342-2373

·          Public Health Inspector

·          Drinking Water Officer

·          Tobacco Enforcement Officer

Pandemic Planning and preparation