British Columbia

Flu vaccines could be delayed this fall, but BCCDC is confident it won't affect immunization

BCCDC says while the first delivery of vaccines will be delayed, additional orders of the vaccine will compensate.

BCCDC says first delivery of vaccines will be delayed but additional orders will make up for it

Despite minor delays in flu vaccines, the BCCDC doesn't anticipate the province's immunization programs will be affected. (Robert Short/CBC)

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) says the first delivery of this year's flu vaccines will be delayed, but additional quantities of the vaccine set to arrive in October will make up for it. 

"This means supplies for high priority populations including health-care workers, people in long-term care facilities and people at high risk due to underlying medical conditions should not be affected," a BCCDC spokesperson said via email. 

Each flu season, the World Health Organization recommends which strain of influenza to vaccinate against. This year, its recommendations were delayed by one month, pushing back manufacturing.

The BCCDC says large public clinics will begin offering the flu vaccine in early November, which is in line with previous years. 

There will be a shortage of quadrivalent vaccines. They protect against four different types of the flu and are normally given to children and adolescents.

However, the health agency says it will be replaced by trivalent vaccine, which protects against three types of flu.

According to the BCCDC  the trivalent vaccine will offer a "similar level of protection" for the types of flu expected to circulate this year.

Typically, health officials look to the southern hemisphere for clues on how bad the flu seasons will be. 

Australia experienced a much earlier and harsher flu season with over 200 deaths, prompting Ontario to stock up on extra high-strength vaccines in preparation. 

But the BCCDC says, this year, the southern hemisphere's flu season is not a good comparison.

"The southern hemisphere had an exceptionally mild influenza season the previous winter, so their population immunity would be lower. This was the first time they experienced the particular kind of H3N2 virus whereas our population has seen the strain before and our vaccines are different."

The nasal spray will also not be available in Canada this year because of a shortage of an active ingredient. 

The spray had been distributed in previous years as an option for children and youth between the ages of two and 17 years.

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