For Canadians who don't get the flu shot because of the whole "shot" part, a new option is now available. A nasal spray flu vaccine has just received Health Canada's approval.

The product is called FluMist and will be sold in Canada by AstraZeneca.

FluMist has been on the U.S. market since 2003 and is the only non-injectable flu vaccine in North America. It's now approved in Canada for the prevention of seasonal influenza in Canadians two to 59 years of age.

FluMist is a mist that is sprayed into the nose, allowing the vaccine to enter the nose to deliver an active, attenuated (weakened) form of three flu viruses into the body.

It should be administered by a health care professional, although in Alberta, pharmacists will be able to administer the vaccine themselves. The cost of a dose hasn't yet been decided.

Like any flu vaccine, it would need to be given annually, as the virus strains are adjusted for seasonal activity.

The spray should appeal to parents and their children, who tend to hate needles. According to a recent survey commissioned by AstraZeneca, 60 per cent of Canadians said they welcomed a nasal spray vaccine and said they would prefer it for their children.

The spray might also be a good option for others who would prefer a vaccine they can sniff over one given by needle, and may help raise vaccination rates. Studies suggest that only 31.7 per cent of Canadians aged 12 or older were vaccinated against the flu in 2008, even though vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the sometimes dangerous illness.

So far, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization hasn't had a chance to study FluMist and to make a recommendation on its use. That makes it unclear whether any provinces or territories will pick up the product for their seasonal flu vaccination programs for this flu season.

As well, most provinces have already placed their flu vaccine orders with the two companies that currently have contracts to supply seasonal vaccine to the public market in Canada.