OPH switching to nasal spray flu vaccine

·2 min read

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is turning to a nasal spray as its primary flu vaccine for residents between the ages of two and 59.

FluMist was originally available only for private purchase this year, but is now being offered by the Ontario government as demand continues across the province, according to a memo to the mayor and council from Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health.

The spray will be available at OPH clinics starting Friday. It will also be distributed to pharmacies and family physicians, OPH said.

The unprecedented demand for the influenza vaccine this year caused some pharmacies to run out, delaying vaccination for some Ottawa residents.

Nasal spray 'proven to be effective'

Etches said the nasal spray, which is authorized for use in Canada in children and adults up to 59, is "proven to be effective" and has the support of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. OPH has distributed the spray in previous flu seasons, Etches said.

Infants, adults over 60, people who are immunosuppressed, pregnant women and those with uncontrolled asthma will receive a flu shot instead of the spray.

Concerned about the possibility of a "double pandemic" and the resulting strain on the health-care system, public health officials have been especially adamant about residents getting vaccinated against influenza this season, and residents have apparently heeded the call.

More than 48,000 Ottawa residents have been vaccinated against influenza since OPH began the current campaign in October. That's more than four times the number vaccinated during the previous flu season.

"OPH will continue to offer available appointments on our website based on community demand and vaccine availability," Etches wrote. "OPH continues to recommend that individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications seek out opportunities to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible."