Looking for a flu shot in B.C.? Kids and seniors have some different options

·3 min read
Looking for a flu shot in B.C.? Kids and seniors have some different options

Kids and seniors have some different options this year when it comes to getting vaccinated against the flu in B.C., and that could mean an extra dose of protection or avoiding the needle altogether.

For most of us, the standard influenza shot from a pharmacist or doctor will be the only choice.

But if you're a child or over 65 and living in long-term care or assisted living, things could be a bit different.

CBC spoke to Monika Naus, medical director of the communicable diseases and immunization service at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control about the different options for the 2020/21 influenza season.

Here's what she said:

What are the options for kids?

A needle isn't necessarily the most comfortable experience for anyone, but children between the ages of two and 17 have the choice of receiving their vaccination through a nasal spray called FluMist.

"In the studies that have been done of this product [...] it seems to perform very well in kids, but less well in adults," Naus said.

The spray hasn't been available in recent years, but it's back for this season and can be obtained from your local health unit, as well as some pharmacies and doctors' offices.

However, it's not an option for toddlers under the age of two, who will still require a shot from their doctor.

What about seniors?

For people over the age of 65 who live in long-term care or assisted living facilities, an extra-potent version of the vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose is available and fully covered this year.

This shot contains four times the concentration of antigens in a normal inoculation — these are the molecules that provoke an immune response.

For seniors who don't live in care homes, though, this particular vaccine likely won't be available for purchase.

"What we've heard from the company that distributes this product is that they don't anticipate a private market," Naus said.

However, there is a vaccine called Fluad that is specially formulated for seniors, with an ingredient called an adjuvant that has been designed to promote a stronger immune response in older people.

Watch: Here are your flu shot options in B.C.

And everybody else?

For all other adults, the standard flu shot is the only option. It's available for free to pregnant women, health-care workers, people with certain medical conditions and front-line emergency workers — among others.

The demand for the flu shot is unusually high this year in B.C. because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Naus says that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will get their chance.

"We've certainly heard that pharmacists are saying that they're running out of vaccine," she said.

"But this program typically runs until about the middle of December, so there is lots of time to get vaccinated."

Naus said supplies will be arriving throughout flu season, but it can take time to trickle down to health-care providers.