If by some off-chance any pediatricians offer the nasal mist flu vaccine this year, parents and caregivers should flat out decline that form of vaccination, according to the latest policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP says that the nasal spray flu vaccine is ineffective and should not be used.
The change in policy mirrors a CDC advisory committee recommendation that the FluMist, the nasal spray influenza vaccine, should not be used.
“To everyone’s surprise and increasing consternation, this vaccine has performed quite poorly compared to the injectable vaccine,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist, told CNN.
— CNN (@CNN) September 6, 2016
The FDA first approved the nasal mist vaccine (which contains the live, but weakened, influenza virus) in 2003. The flu shot, on the other hand, is an inactivated influenza vaccine. The FluMist is supposed to work by stimulating the immune system. Initial research showed the live, attenuated FluMist nasal vaccine worked better than the flu shot in kids under 8 years old, and at that time, the CDC told parents that it was the preferred form of vaccination for children.
“That lasted exactly a year,” Dr. Schaffner said.
Despite the lack of support from the CDC, the nasal spray has become a favorite among pediatricians. Dr. Jennifer Shu said that pediatricians prefered the FluMist to the shot, because kids prefer it to the poke. Dr. Shu said that the only drawback on the nasal mist was that it could cause a runny nose for a couple of days.
The CDC worries that pediatricians will be the most affected by the change in recommendation, because many had already placed their vaccine orders. In the meantime, the FDA is working with the producers of the FluMist to find out why it performed so poorly, CNN reported.
Now, the AAP is fully on board with the CDC’s recommendation and its policy statement has been updated to state that children should not be given the nasal mist flu vaccine during the 2016-2017 season.
— WGRZ (@WGRZ) September 7, 2016
The recommendations come from research published in May that offered early evidence that the live, attenuated nasal mist flu vaccine offered hardly any protection from the flu in either the 2013-2014 or the 2014-2015 flu season. Dr. Brendan Flannery of the CDC even offered up data that indicated that FluMist had zero effectiveness against one strain of flu.
The CDC says that it’s unknown why the live vaccine isn’t working, because it should offer more protection than the inactivated flu shot, but the AAP isn’t waiting around to find out the cause of the lack of protection offered from FluMist vaccination.
“New research shows that the flu shot provided significantly better protection in recent flu seasons compared with the nasal spray vaccine.
“We want to provide children with the best protection possible against flu, and these recent studies show the flu shot is likely to provide a higher level of protection.”
The AAP is instructing pediatricians to offer the flu shot instead and to explain why the intranasal formulation is not available to them this season. They are to inform parents and caregivers that in all pediatric age groups, the nasal spray flu vaccine “did not have any statistically significant benefit in preventing influenza.”
“Breast-feeding also offers newborns added protection against the flu. Because the flu virus is common and unpredictable, it can cause serious complications even in healthy children.”
Tell us in the comments section below if you got the FluMist last season. If you did, are you disappointed to learn that it provided no statistical protection?
The rise and fall of FluMist®. pic.twitter.com/UE2YwGrOFL
— Forrest Maready (@forrestmaready) September 6, 2016
[Image via Pixabay]