11/14/2014 07:03 EST | Updated 01/14/2015 05:59 EST

Flu nasal spray vaccine hard to find outside Vancouver clinics

The flu season is off to an early start, and so is the rush to Vancouver-area pharmacies and clinics for the vaccine.

Vancouver Coastal Health said it has already distributed 440,000 doses of flu vaccine, which is already more than what was distributed throughout all of last season.

And while doses of the regular injection flu vaccine are widely available, parents seeking to have their children vaccinated with the nasal spray may be disappointed to find it in short supply.

Public health clinics do have the nasal mist vaccine in stock, but are only giving it to children five and under or to those with special health circumstances. For older children, parents must get a prescription and fill it at a pharmacy.

Nasal spray flu vaccine in demand

Gianni Del Negro a pharmacy manager with London Drugs, said that, just like last year, there is a real demand from parents who want to buy the spray vaccine for their children.

"Some parents are a little concerned about injections for their kids and would like to use the FluMist, but unfortunately we haven't been able to access any.

"The wholesaler haven't been able to provide us any. They just don't have any stock," he said. "I'm not sure why that is." 

Wholesalers found it hard to meet B.C.'s demand for nasal spray flu vaccine last year, when the province  ordered 80,000 doses, but this year the season is already different.

Dr. MeenaDawar, a medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, said that last year's flu season peaked late, creating a rush on vaccinations in January and February. She said it's still too early to tell how severe this year's flu season will be, but the signs so far are not good.

"This season has been intriguing because we've had slightly more H3N2 activity—this is the virus that causes severe illness in seniors. There have been a number of outbreaks, influenza outbreaks, in our long-term care facilities in Vancouver Coastal Health. So it's a bit of an early season," she said.