With the flu season fast approaching, it’s a good idea to get your kids—and yourself—prepared for the winter by getting flu shots as soon as they're made available.
But if your kids have been getting their annual flu vaccine through the popular nasal spray option, there’s some bad news: It’s won't be available in Canada this year.
The nasal flu vaccine, which first became available in Canada in 2015, won’t be offered this flu season due to a shortage of an active ingredient. While AstraZeneca announced the anticipated shortage in April, it wasn’t until early this month that Health Canada confirmed that the nasal vaccine, FluMist, wouldn’t be available for this flu season.
AstraZeneca, for one, isn't worried about how this will impact overall immunity. “We anticipate the supply challenges will have minimal impact on [Canadian] patients,” says the company, which reports that fewer than two percent of all Canadian flu vaccinations in 2018-2019 were administered via the nasal spray.
Ian Gemmill, a former medical officer of health and a public health consultant in Kingston, Ont., stresses that it’s essential that all kids get their flu shots, and especially if they’re young. “Kids under the age of five suffer more hospitalization from influenza than any other age group,” says Gemmill.
Don't let your kid's fear of needles hold you back. “Most kids don’t like needles, but it’s important they get vaccinated," says Gemmill. If you’re looking for ways to get your kid through their shots without much fuss, Gemmill says distraction works well, whether you use toys, silly songs, or anything else that makes them pay less attention to their doctor. Or try one of these scientifically proven ways to make needles less painful for your kids.
“[Influenza] can make your holidays quite miserable,” says Gemmill. “If you could reduce that risk in half by getting the flu shot, then why not?”
Note that although the nasal flu vaccine isn’t available in Canada this year, it's expected to be available to those in the United States.