Canada won't offer flu vaccine nasal spray due to global shortage
In this Oct. 4, 2005, file photo, Danielle Holland reacts as she is given a FluMist influenza vaccination in St. Leonard, Md. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner, File)
TORONTO -- The Public Health Agency of Canada says the manufacturer of FluMist -- a nasal spray version of the flu shot, often given to children -- hasn’t made enough for Canada this year due to a global shortage.
In an email, Public Health Agency of Canada spokesperson Anna Maddison said “because of production challenges this year, there is a significantly lower amount of FluMist Quadrivalent supply available globally.”
And for this reason, the manufacturer is “unable to make the product available for use in Canada for the 2019-20 flu season.”
But she stressed that traditional injection-style flu vaccines are still available. The Public Health Agency of Canada strongly urged people to get vaccinated as it can prevent “flu and serious flu-related complications such as pneumonia.”
They added that “although the nasal spray vaccine may be a more desirable option for some children and adolescents between two and 17 years of age, it is important for Canadians to receive whichever flu vaccine is available.”
The government spokesperson described how “AstraZeneca is the only provider of the intranasal flu vaccine in Canada, and there are no alternative vaccines of this type in Canada.” On Tuesday, Drug Shortages Canada explained this was due to a “shortage of an active ingredient.”
In an email to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson for the manufacturer AstraZeneca Canada echoed Public Health Agency of Canada, writing how it was “unable to deliver FluMist Quadrivalent for the Canadian market (public and private).”
The company told federal and provincial authorities back in April there would be a shortage, and added they believed it would have “minimal impact on patients” because Canadians had other vaccines alternatives.
Public Health Agency of Canada said this time gave “sufficient time” for provinces and territories to stock up on alternative vaccines.
The manufacturer further explained that the FluMist supply “represented less than roughly 2 per cent of all Canadian flu vaccine doses.”
Each year, based on surveillance data, the World Health Organization determines which influenza strains are likely to circulate during the upcoming flu season in different parts of the world.
For 2019-2020, WHO noted A/H1N1 and A/H3N2 strains should be used in this season’s vaccines in the northern hemisphere.
With files from CTVNews.ca writer Mariam Matti