Canadians who dread their annual flu shot may have to roll up their sleeves three times this fall.

People seeking protection will need two swine flu shots, in addition to their regular flu shot, health officials said yesterday.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, says putting both the regular flu and the influenza A?(H1N1) vaccine, also known as swine flu, into one needle would have delayed production.

“All the manufacturers internationally were well on the way with the production with their seasonal flu (vaccine). And so to substitute or add the H1 to it would have delayed the whole process,” he said.

Butler-Jones said the two additional shots to protect against swine flu must be done a month apart.

A regular flu shot protects against one strain of influenza B and two of influenza A, including a human subtype that rather confusingly goes by the same name as the swine flu virus — H1N1.

Despite the similarity in names, the regular flu shot doesn’t offer any protection against the new swine-derived virus.

Canada has a long-standing contract with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to produce a new vaccine for swine flu when one is developed.

Butler-Jones said Canada has until the end of July to place its vaccine order. The swine flu shot is expected by the end of October, and vaccinations — which are voluntary — will follow over the next four to eight weeks.

Most Popular From ...