By JESSICA PETT
Getting the flu shot can be a traumatizing event for young children and yet another chore on the to-do list for many adults. Health Canada has now come up with a solution; it’s called FluMist, a live influenza vaccine administered through the nostrils. According to the FluMist website, it can be given to anyone aged two to 59. However, Public Health Ontario, which is administering the vaccine for the first time this year, will only be giving it to patients ages five to 17.
Unlike the original flu vaccine given by needle, FluMist is painless but does have some similar side effects as the needle. According to FluMist’s website, the most common side effects include runny nose, reduced appetite, weakness, headache and fever.
Wendy Kennedy, a Waterloo mother of three, has never considered getting her family immunized.
“It didn’t seem right to subject them to unnecessary and painful yearly injections. They have strong immune systems and do not interact with a vulnerable population,” she said.
Satish Mistry, a pharmacist at Westmount Place Pharmasave, said although there are side effects with both kinds, he recommends the FluMist vaccine for certain individuals.
“It’s much easier, it’s less invasive, it’s worth getting in a young, healthy population but not in anyone who has a weakened immune system,” he said.
The introduction of FluMist has given people much more to think about when it comes to whether or not they should receive the vaccine and how. Kennedy said the FluMist nasal vaccine might have changed the game for her.
“With the nasal spray being fairly new, I would approach it with caution. I will admit that the non-injection option would open me up to discussion about whether or not I will offer it to my kids. I had firmly closed the discussion on yet another vaccination.”
The FluMist vaccine is free for now for patients up to 17 years old and will be available at most pharmacies and doctors’ offices in the region, but Kennedy said it is not advertised much.
“Our family doctor does not really endorse the flu vaccine. We can get it if we want but he doesn’t push it at all,” she said.
There is currently a shortage of the FluMist vaccine in Waterloo Region. Lashen Naidoo, a pharmacist and owner of Shoppers Drug Mart on Ottawa Street in Kitchener, said once the shortage is over, he believes there will be an increase in the number of children who receive the vaccine.
“Due to this shortage, FluMist is only available to doctors at this stage for children under five years old,” he said.
Naidoo also said this vaccine is newer to pharmacists than it is to doctors.
“Previously this vaccine was not funded by Public Health Ontario and had to be administered by a doctor. For the current flu season, it is being funded by Public Health Ontario and can be administered by a pharmacist for all children between five and 17,” he said.
Conestoga College will not be administering the FluMist vaccine, but does hold free flu shot clinics each fall. For dates and more information on these clinics from Health Services, visit www.conestogac.on.ca/health-services or speak to the on-campus nurse in Room 1A102 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.