Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut January 15, 2014 - 3:58 am

Flu vaccine shortage? Not in Nunavut

Age criteria for FluMist vaccine broadened to include adults


Concerns about nasty strains of the flu virus have increased demand for the flu shot in Canada this month, creating a shortage of the vaccine in some parts of the country.

But Nunavummiut shouldn’t worry, said the territory’s chief medical officer of health.
“Health authorities from other provinces and territories are reporting a shortage of the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Maureen Baikie in a Jan. 14 release. “This is not the present case for Nunavut.”

Baikie acknowledged that some forms of the flu vaccine, such as the nasal spray FluMist, must be used within a certain period following its date of manufacture.

“To ensure no stock reaches its expiration, the age criteria for the FluMist vaccine will be broadened to include anyone from ages two to 59 until Jan. 20,” Baikie said.

Normally, the nasal spray is recommended only for children up to the age of 17.

Last week, the Government of Nunavut encouraged Nunavummiut who hadn’t yet been vaccinated to do so at their local health centre, as the territory moves into flu season.

For 2013-14, Canada purchased a total of 10.4 million doses of the flu vaccine. But demand for the vaccine has risen sharply since reports of about a dozen deaths from the flu have been reported around the country, with the H1N1 virus being a dominant strain this winter.

Last week, an Alberta woman died from H5N1, the first death from the bird flu noted in North American.

Nunavut’s chief medical officer reminds people to protect yourself from the flu by getting vaccinated, covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze and washing your hands frequently.

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