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Ontario’s health minister announced in October 2015 that the province will now cover the costs of a flu vaccine that comes in the form of a nasal spray for children, a gentle alternative to the stab of a needle. Since the vaccine is still considered the best way to prevent the illness (along with hand washing), officials across the country are hoping that reducing the pain associated with needles may encourage more parents to decide in favour of vaccination.
(Last year, Ontarians had to pay for the nasal spray for their kids; injections were and remain free.)
More good news: Vaccine makers are also offering a more robust formula based on four flu strains (two influenza A-strains and two B-strains) in addition to vaccines based on the usual three (two A-strains and one B-strain), reports Global News. Availability will differ from province to province and children will have priority, since they are among the most vulnerable to the virus. Provinces have the option of offering the new vaccine via injection or nasal spray.
New vaccine should offer more protection
Health officials say the new vaccine should increase the vaccine’s effectiveness over last year's. While flu vaccines are expected to reduce the risk of getting sick and needing medical care by 50 to 70 percent, last year’s vaccine reportedly only reduced the risk by 23 percent.
The problem? Last year there was a mutation in an A-strain and a mismatch in the B-strain after the flu vaccine was formulated, reports Global. The new vaccine should cover off those issues.
A few more quick flu facts:
• According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, flu germs from sneezes can travel up to six feet, and the flu can live on surfaces for up to eight hours.
• The new nasal spray flu vaccine and new injection flu vaccine will be available for children and youth aged two to 17 years at health care providers’ offices, local public health units and—for five- to 17-year-olds—participating pharmacies.
• The flu can be serious for children, especially for those under five years of age. School-age children are most likely to spread the flu virus to others because of their close proximity to other children in school or when participating in extra-curricular activities.
• Ten to 20 percent of Canadians get sick with the flu every year. It is estimated that 12,200 people are hospitalized and about 3,500 die.
Discover more ways to ease your cold and flu symptoms naturally and reduce the pain of injections.