Ever get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are going in to get a shot, or perhaps, if you have kids, you can see that look of despair on their face as you get closer to the immunization clinic. Let’s face it most of us don’t like needles, but there is another option if you want to stay healthy this flu season.
The nasal spray vaccine, FluMist Quadrivalent, is the only needle-free vaccine available in Canada for the flu season. Quadrivalent means it protects against four strains of the flu, two A strains and two B strains.
The standard Trivalent Inactivated Vaccine (TIV), protects against three strains of the flu, two A and one B.
Dr. Viven Brown, a member of the immunize Canada, told Calgary Buzz that strain B is known to affect children more than adults, thus being one of the reasons why the FluMist vaccine is thought to not only be a good alternative to the standard TIV but the preferred method of vaccination for children aged 2 to 17, according to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
In Alberta, children aged 2 to 17 are able to get FluMist for free.
Being a live vaccine means there are some restrictions on who can take FluMist. Those who are pregnant or immunosuppressed, such as transplant patients, those on many medications or patients who have diseases that effect their immune system, should avoid FluMist as they could get the disease themselves instead of getting the wanted affect of the nasal vaccine. FluMist is expected to be very effective in the protection against influenza this season and is considered safe for healthy individuals of all ages.
“I think innovative is one of the words I would use and [FluMist], hopefully, is more broad spectrum, it should cover more strains of flu, so we should get a really good response,” says Dr. Brown.
By getting vaccinated you will be protecting at-risk-Canadians from falling ill and contribute to lowering the number of more than 12,000 Canadians that are expected to visit the hospital because of influenza and related illnesses.
“I am biased to vaccine,” Dr. Brown told Calgary Buzz.
“It decreases the risk of flu in the general community, and what’s most important is children under the age of 5 are considered high risk for influenza. In Canada we end up with something like 3,500 deaths a year from influenza and pneumonia. So, I think it’s really important and the fact that it’s easier to give makes everybody a little more comfortable.”