For the first time in B.C., people can opt for a nasal spray vaccine instead of the standard flu shot this flu season.
The FluMist is free for children between the ages of 2 and 17 at public health clinics or a doctor’s office, and is available to adults to purchase from pharmacies.
“I can tell you my kids love that vaccine,” says Dr. Meena Dawar, a medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.
The nasal spray was tested against flu shots in a pilot study last year, and has been found to be a more effective vaccine for young children because it contains a live antibody.
"What we found is that the majority of parents liked the vaccine and they accepted it,” says Dawar.
Based on that positive experience, Dawar says, the Ministry of Health has funded that vaccine for all health authorities in B.C.
Health officials recommend everyone else — over six months of age — get a seasonal flu shot.
This year’s flu vaccine contains three strains:
- H1N1 (same strain from pandemic year 2009)
- Influenza A H3N2 (which circulated last year)
- An Influenza B strain that circulated last year
The flu shot is free to:
- People 65 years and older and their caregivers/household contacts
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
- Children and adults with chronic health conditions and their household contacts
- Children and adolescents (six months to 18 years) with conditions treated for long periods of time with acetylsalicylic acid, and their household contacts
- Healthy children age six months to 59 months
- Household contacts and caregivers of infants age zero to 59 months
- Pregnant women who will be in their third trimester during influenza season and their household contacts
- Health care and other care providers in facilities and community settings who are capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of influenza complications
- People who provide essential services including first responders and correction officers
- People who work with live poultry
- Aboriginal peoples (on and off reserve)
- People who are morbidly obese
- Anyone visiting health care facilities across B.C.