September 12, 2016
Flu Symptoms Begin To Spike, Nasal Influenza Vaccine No Longer Recommended By CDC

Reports of Flu symptoms have begun to increase throughout the United States. However, as the 2016-2017 flu season begins, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are no longer recommending the nasal flu vaccine. Although FluMist was determined to be insufficient, healthcare officials are still encouraging the use of injected vaccines.

As defined by the CDC, influenza is "a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses."

Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may include aches and pains, chills, coughing, fatigue, fever, headache, and nasal symptoms. Although some patients experience diarrhea and vomiting, they are not common symptoms of the respiratory flu.

Although flu symptoms are generally mild, complications can occur in children, the elderly, and patients with compromised immune systems. According to the CDC, complications may include the development of more severe illness including respiratory infection, inflammation of the brain or heart, and organ failure.

The specific numbers are unknown, but the CDC estimates between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from the flu or flu-related symptoms each year.

To prevent the possibility of serious illness or death, healthcare officials recommend influenza vaccines for everyone over the age of 6 months, except those with known contraindications.

Although flu vaccines are traditionally administered with a needle, FluMist, which was introduced in 2003, has become a popular alternative.

FluMist is a nasal flu vaccine, which is sprayed directly into the nose. As the application is less painful than a traditional flu shot, it is a popular choice for vaccinating children.

Wall Street Journal reports an estimated one-third of parents choose FluMist for their children as opposed to the traditional shot. However, the option is not being recommended for the 2016-2017 flu season.

The recommendation is based on data, which suggests the nasal flu vaccine simply is not effective in preventing seasonal influenza.

According to the CDC, the injected flu vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the flu by an estimated 63 percent. In stark contrast, FluMist reduces the risk by an estimated three percent.

Healthcare officials are concerned that the recommendation will discourage parents from getting their children vaccinated because some children are terribly frightened of needles.

However, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center Director Paul Offit said flu symptoms, which can become severe, are far worse than the pain of a shot.

"Although it does hurt and it's no fun getting a shot, it's really important to get an influenza vaccine."
Offit underlined the fact that an estimated 200,000 people are hospitalized each year due to flu symptoms and complications.
Flu season generally begins in October and peaks in February. Unfortunately, healthcare officials believe the 2016-2017 flu season has already begun.

In South Carolina, doctors have confirmed at least 59 cases of influenza in recent weeks. The numbers are specifically concerning, as the seasonal flu rarely spreads during the hotter months. As reported by Fox Carolina, the numbers are also significantly higher than they were last year at this time.

Although flu symptoms are already being reported in several states, the CDC has not noted an actual outbreak at this time.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, the possibility of catching or spreading influenza can be reduced by avoiding contact with people who are already sick. The CDC also recommends staying home from school or work while experiencing flu symptoms.

For children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with a compromised immune system, the CDC said the flu shot is the most effective way to reduce the risk of contracting the flu. Although FluMist is a popular choice for many families, healthcare officials have determined nasal flu vaccines are no longer effective.

[Image via dreamerb/Shutterstock]