Ontario Parents Can Now Choose Free Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine For Children

New nasal spray flu vaccine will be available for children aged 2 to 17 as an alternative to an injection in the arm


The tears are falling, snot is streaking down their faces and you are manically singing a song and waving toys in an effort to distract them from the sharp pointy object that the doctor is about to insert into their tiny little arm. Trying not to cry yourself, you're doing all you can to hold a wriggling baby still, emitting soothing coos where possible and trying to push dark thoughts away that are cursing the health worker causing your baby so much anguish. 

Let’s face it—we all want to make sure that our little ones are safe from illness and protected against the flu, but none of us like to see our babies being given an injection. There are tears, maybe tantrums and almost definitely outrageous bribes made on the spot to pacify our kids and alleviate some of the guilt we feel that we're the reason they're in pain. But, its not like we have any other choice is it? 

Until now.

Parents of Ontario, rejoice! Now you can protect children and youth against the flu with a free nasal spray vaccine. As of this week, the vaccine is available for children from ages 2 to 17, as an alternative to getting an injection in their arm.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, said, “This year, parents will have new options when they get their child vaccinated against the flu. 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.” 

As an added bonus, the nasal spray vaccine will actually protect against four flu viruses instead of the three that the injection covers. The broader defense is against a B-strain of the virus, which more commonly affects youth and children than adults. So, extra protection and no communal crying at the doctor’s office—this is what we call a win win.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, added: “Quadrivalent (four-fold) influenza vaccines aim to give broader protection against potentially circulating flu viruses by protecting against a second B-strain virus, which evidence shows is more likely to affect children and youth. Since it can take up to two weeks to build immunity, I am urging young people to plan to get the shot or nasal spray as soon as it’s available.”

However, if you remain unconvinced by this new nasal spray option, worry not—you can still opt to vaccinate your child with the regular in-the-arm injection. Whichever vaccine you choose will be available at health care providers’ offices, local public health units and—for children aged five years and older—participating pharmacies.

Given that between 10 and 20 percent of Canadians will get sick with the flu every year, we’re just glad that we have more options to help vaccinate our kids and can only hope that now there is no excuse for parents not to. The flu can be very serious for kids, especially those under five, given their close proximity to other small people, so it’s incredibly important that we don’t put our kids at risk. Now I just wish there was a non-injected vaccine for the more squeamish among us adults!

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