On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an updated statement containing flu vaccine recommendations for the 2018-2019 flu season, according to CNN. After last year’s flu season ranked as the most severe on record, the AAP’s new statement recommends that everyone (especially pregnant women and children over 6 months of age) receive their immunization as early in the season as possible.
Last year’s season took the lives of 179 children, while thousands more were hospitalized for the illness. Out of those children who died, it’s estimated that 80 percent had not been vaccinated. The AAP states that the flu vaccine reduces children’s chances of severe symptoms and complications such as death. For this reason, experts are recommending that children receive the immunization before Halloween this year. AAP member Jennifer Shu made it easy to remember.
“Don’t go trick-or-treating unless you’ve had your flu shot.”
However, not all immunizations are created equal, claim pediatricians. The AAP statement recommends that children receive the vaccine via injection rather than the nasal mist formulation, FluMist. While both forms will be available on the market, studies have proven that infection rates of those who received the shot were significantly lower than those of children who received FluMist.
Other studies, as reported by Science Daily, suggest that new egg-based vaccines are becoming less and less effective. A study at Rice University confirmed that this year’s vaccine, though it has been changed, still contains egg-based mutations which have been reducing the vaccine’s efficacy over the past two seasons. While estimates for the coming year are still being formed, so far, the Rice University study predicts that the egg-based vaccine will only protect 19 percent of people from the Type A flu virus. Michael Deem, a Rice University professor who worked on the study, weighed in on the topic.
“Very often there are egg adaptations. There were a couple of these in the vaccine strain the past two seasons that wound up making it a little bit different from the actual circulating virus strain.”
For this reason, some health practitioners will only be offering non-egg formulations of the vaccine for the 2018-2019 flu season. NBC News shared that one such organization is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which will only offer the non-egg formulations Flucelvax and FluBlok to their patients and staff this year. Dr. Zimmerman, who advises the UPMC Influenza Committee, stated his support for non-egg vaccines.
“The egg-free vaccines appear to have perhaps a 10 percent higher effectiveness over the traditional egg-based vaccines…I plan for my family to get the egg-free this year.”
Regardless, the AAP’s recommendation remains that everyone who is able to receive some form of the vaccine for the 2018-2019 year should do so.