OTTAWA -- Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says a spray-based influenza vaccine will soon be available at its immunization clinics in the city.

In a memo to city council, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said the Ontario government is making a nasal spray vaccine available to public health units.

"As the demand for the flu vaccine continues to be high throughout the province, the Ontario government is now offering FluMist® Quadrivalent, a live attenuated influenza vaccine, as a part of the Ontario Universal Influenza Immunization Program. FluMist was not originally offered as a part of the 2020-2021 Ontario program (but has been distributed by OPH in previous seasons) and was only available by private purchase," Dr. Etches said.

Starting Friday, Dec. 4, the nasal spray will become the primary vaccine for residents 2 to 59 years old at all OPH clinics.

"The quadrivalent shot will be available for people who cannot receive the FluMist vaccine such as certain people who are immunosuppressed, people with uncontrolled asthma, people who are pregnant and residents older than 59 years of age or younger than 2 years of age," Dr. Etches said.

A quadrivalent vaccine protects against two Influenza A strains and two Influenza B strains. 

Dr. Etches also said that OPH has seen enormous success with its influenza immunization campaign this year.

"During the 2019-2020 OPH influenza vaccination campaign 11,321 residents were vaccinated against the flu during the fall and winter months. In comparison, since launching in October 2020, OPH has already vaccinated over 48,000 residents to date," she said.

Appointments for a flu shot or spray will continue to be available on OPH's website.

"OPH continues to recommend that individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications seek out opportunities to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible," Dr. Etches wrote.