~ Health Canada approval of FluMist(R) offers Canadians a safe, more effective option to protect against the flu ~
AstraZeneca Canada Inc. announced today that Health Canada has approved FluMist(R) (Influenza Vaccine, Live, Attenuated) for the prevention of seasonal influenza. FluMist is the first vaccine in Canada that is administered as a gentle mist sprayed into the nose.
This unique, needle-free administration method allows the vaccine to enter the nose where the influenza virus usually enters the body, inducing protective immunity. Additionally, clinical studies have shown that, compared to the injectable vaccine, FluMist demonstrates greater effectiveness against matched and mismatched strains in children two to 17 years of age and guards against late outbreaks of infection. In children two to five years of age, FluMist reduced the number of influenza cases by more than 50 per cent, compared to the injectable vaccine.
Despite the World Health Organization's recommendation that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent seasonal flu infection, only 31.7 per cent of Canadians aged 12 or older were vaccinated against the flu in 2008. According to a recent survey, almost a quarter of Canadian parents do not think the current vaccine works and 60 per cent would prefer a nasal administration of the vaccine for their children.
"Seasonal influenza remains the most common vaccine-preventable disease in the developed world. Despite the fact that the flu is a serious illness that in addition to causing people to miss significant time at work, school and with their families and friends can sometimes lead to death, we continue to see low vaccination rates here in Canada," says Dr. David Greenberg, general practitioner, Toronto. "With the introduction of FluMist, it's encouraging to see another vaccine option to help reduce the overall burden of seasonal flu in Canada."
FluMist is administered annually, and is approved for the prevention of seasonal influenza in Canadians two to 59 years of age. FluMist has been used in the U.S. since 2003.
"FluMist is sprayed directly into the nose - the site of infection - which simplifies the vaccination process for both healthcare professional and patient, particularly children," says Dr. Greenberg. "Parents won't have to worry about their children being afraid of the needle and can be reassured by the data that supports the effectiveness of FluMist."