Tips for the holiday season – know your care options

The holiday season is here and Island Health reminds residents to take steps to keep healthy, stay injury free and avoid unnecessary visits and potential long waits in emergency departments during this busy time of year. 

Patients who present for care in emergency departments are triaged and those with immediate emergency medical needs and urgent care requirements take priority.

For non-life-threatening conditions and health concerns, there are many options for care over the holidays:

  • If you need non-urgent care, speak with your family doctor or primary care provider
  • Visit an Urgent and Primary Care Centre or walk-in clinic 
  • See your doctor or care provider before the holidays for things like prescription refills, if necessary, to avoid long wait times in the emergency department
  • Familiarize yourself with the locations and opening hours of area walk-in clinics
  • If you’re unsure about your care needs, call HealthLink BC at 811 to speak to a registered nurse, 24 hours a day
  • Note the weekend and holiday hours of your local pharmacy/drug store, and ensure your prescriptions are up to date
  • Make sure you have basic pharmaceuticals on hand to control children’s fever and pain
  • Take some basic safety precautions: Check weather conditions and wear appropriate footwear when outdoors to avoid slips and falls, buckle up in vehicles and don’t drink and drive 
  • Get your flu shot
  • Wash your hands frequently and follow mask protocols to avoid spreading and contracting the COVID-19 virus, the flu virus and bacteria

Should you or someone in your care have a critical or life-threatening condition such as a major injury, trouble breathing, symptoms of a stroke or heart attack, loss of consciousness or severe bleeding, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. Do not delay seeking emergency care.

Residents are reminded that all Island Health facilities have COVID-19 safety protocols in place and it is safe to seek care at our facilities for emergencies and for scheduled appointments including medical imaging, diagnostics, and laboratory services.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, visit to perform a self-assessment. If you require testing, please call 1-844-901-8442, Monday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to book an appointment. For more COVID-19 information, visit