A little relief for Ontario parents whose kids are skittish with needles.
A new nasal spray flu vaccine will be available in Ontario on October 26. The vaccines provide protection against four flu viruses: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and two influenza B viruses.
“This year, parents will have new options when they get their child vaccinated against the flu,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “The flu nasal spray is a good option for children who don’t like getting needles, and it provides broader protection by protecting against four strains of the flu. We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for parents to protect their kids, and all Ontarians, by getting their kids vaccinated against the flu.”
One drawback to the nasal spray vaccines is the long list of people who shouldn’t take them, including children under the age of two, people over the age of fifty, pregnant women, or people who are allergic to eggs.
The sprays have proven popular in the United States. In Baltimore, some schools delayed flu vaccine clinics due to a shortage of the product. The treatment, which is produced by AstraZeneca and is called FluMist, has already been used millions of times.
Most medical professionals recommend people get a flu shot in October because they say it can reduce the chances of getting the flu greatly. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the vaccine is typically 50 to 60% percent effective, but the 2015 strain appears to be more effective than that. In 2014, the vaccine was just 13% effective against the H3N2 strain.
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In Canada, the number of adult deaths from influenza has risen over the past four years. But some take issue with the math used to arrive at this conclusion. In 2012, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor said between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and its complications.
“The flu is a serious illness, more so than many might realize,” said federal Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq at the time. “That’s why it’s important that all Canadians over the age of six months take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and those around them by getting the flu shot.”
One expert, however, says the numbers just don’t have any credibility because they are statistically lumped in with other ailments.
“This is a scientific guess. This is not the truth,” Dr. Michael Gardam, director of the infection prevention and control unit at the University Health Network in Toronto. Gardam says one model used logs every respiratory and circulatory deaths as flu deaths.
“As an upper limit, they are looking at everybody who died of a heart and lung problem,” says Gardam. “So you could imagine this could include people who died of a heart attack that had nothing to do with flu, but the feeling is that anybody who died of flu should be captured in there, plus a lot of other people.”
Whatever the actual figures are, the administration of flu vaccines has become a hot-button topic given the rise of the anti-vaccination movement worldwide. It’s here the scientific community agrees the information becomes much more clear. Vaccines ares safe; they don’t cause Alzheimer’s disease, contain high levels of dangerous ingredients, reap massive profits for pharmaceutical companies, or cause heart attacks or strokes. And no, they won’t leave you with the ability to only walk backwards.