In the face of a flu epidemic, a one-size fits all vaccine strategy won’t be effective, a York University study has found. Instead, strategies need to change significantly depending on the characteristics of each region and how easily the particular flu strain spreads.

The research found that the different age demographics of remote and urban populations have a significant impact on the outcome of vaccinations. Many remote areas of the country have a higher percentage of children, who are key transmitters of the virus, compared with urban centres, which generally have fewer children, but more young and middle-aged adults.

“The window of time around the onset of the epidemic is going to be vastly different between a remote population and an urban one, and this is something public health needs to pay attention to when developing vaccine strategies,” said York University researcher and study lead Seyed Moghadas. “Different populations require different vaccination policies to minimize the impact of the disease.”