Just because it’s free probably won’t make it hurt any less.

The province is paying for this year’s flu shot — which includes vaccines for H1N1, H3N2 and Influenza B.

Robert Strang, chief public health officer, said he’s having a media launch tomorrow to announce the shots will be available then through doctors’ offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities. Public health clinics will set up shop in a couple weeks and private nursing agencies will offer workplace clinics.

“We don’t want or need people to rush out Thursday to try to get immunized right away, but it’s really looking for an opportunity over the next couple of months to make sure they’ve had their vaccination,” Strang said.

Besides, the flu is usually polite enough to show up after the holidays.

H1N1 hit the country hard last year because it was a widespread new strain, but Strang said he doesn’t expect another pandemic this year.

“What we’re seeing is a small variation of existing strains, which is what happens in most regular flu seasons.”

About half the population in the province got a flu shot last year and Strang said he’s hoping at least that many will roll up their sleeves for the shot this year.