No more nasal spray for kids getting the flu vaccine?
Parents, beware—your child’s flu vaccine routine may be changing. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee recommended this week that the nasal spray influenza vaccine FluMist shouldn’t be used for the 2016-2017 flu season.
The CDC committee reviewed data from previous flu seasons and compared the nasal spray with the standard flu shot. They found it provided basically no measurable protective effects against influenza.
“We could find no evidence [the spray] was effective,” Dr. Joseph Breese, a flu expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press.
In the 2015-2016 flu season, the nasal spray’s protection rate was a mere 3 percent, which means that no protective benefit could be measured, the panel explained in a release. The traditional flu shot, on the other hand, was 63 percent effective with kids aged 2 to 17. The data follows two previous flu seasons showing poor or lower than expected outlooks for the popular spray.
The recommendation shocked many, as prior to the recent discovery, all evidence showed the spray worked well, and in some instances, even better than the flu shot for kids under the age of eight. The CDC, in fact, expressed a preference for the mist over the shot for young children during the 2014-2015 flu season.
When asked why it may have lost its effectiveness, Dr. Breese theorized with the AP that when a fourth strain of influenza was added to the spray a few years ago, it may have weakened the body’s response to another strain.
The change has some worried. “Unfortunately, not having an effective nasal option may decrease the overall uptake of this year’s flu vaccine, as many parents and older children greatly prefer the nasal form over an injectable form of the vaccine,” says Dr. Chris Jamerson, a pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
“As a general pediatrician, my colleagues want to make sure that all of our patients age six months and over get the most effective form of flu protection available every flu season, and we will continue to emphasize how important effective vaccination against the flu is for our patients,” he says.
According to the release, the nasal spray accounts for about one-third of all flu vaccines given to children in recent seasons.
The CDC conducts vaccine effectiveness studies each season to look at the value of different vaccines.
The decision still needs to be approved by the CDC director before becoming CDC policy.
About the Author
Jacqueline Hughes is the manager, media relations at Advocate Aurora Health. Previously, she was the public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.