Sorry Kids, No Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine This Year, It’s Back To The Shot

By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated in its influenza vaccination schedule for the upcoming season, and the product Flu Mist did not make the cut.

Earlier this summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the nasal spray immunization was not quite up to par at influenza prevention and recommended against its use, instead saying kids should be immunized the old-fashioned way, in other words, by a shot.

Today the Academy of Pediatrics agreed.

Otherwise, there are no major changes when it comes to getting children vaccinated.  The recommendation is that everyone 6 months or older receive an annual vaccine, meaning even if you’ve been vaccinated in years before, the influenza vaccine needs to be repeated on an annual basis.

Flu Vaccine (credit: CBS)

Flu Vaccine (credit: CBS)

The nasal spray immunization was first introduced in 2003 and early on it appeared to be very successful vaccine. In fact, it was actually the preferred method of immunizing children because it was thought to be more effective, and obviously, less painful. (At this point about one third of children typically get the nasal spray vaccine).

However, it looks like over the past several years that the success rate of the nasal spray vaccine bottoms out at about 3 percent protection.  That’s not very high.

The injectable flu shot is felt to be stronger and more effective, even though its success rate is not 100 percent.  It is made with a killed virus particle which works well at stimulating an immune system response to influenza, so in theory, you will not become sick if you are exposed to the germ.  Or if you do become ill, the disease will not be as severe and it will not last as long.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

On the other hand, the nasal spray is a live vaccine which has been chemically weakened in the laboratory and therefore is felt to be not as potent, which may explain its lack of effectiveness.

It’s important to remember that influenza is not a mild illness and that is an especially big worry for children who have asthma, diabetes, or some other chronic underlying illness.

Remember though, it is still a good idea for all children 6 months of age and older, even those in overall excellent health.

If the child 6 months of age or older up to age 8 has never received an influenza vaccine, it is recommended that the child receive two immunizations, with the second coming approximately 30 days after the first vaccination.  That revs up the immune system. However, if your child has already received a flu immunization in years past, only one vaccine is necessary this season.

The immunization is now becoming more available as we head into September.  The goal is to have everyone immunized by the end of October (us grownups, too).  It’s unknown when the flu season will make its debut, but remember it takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to work.

Sorry about the extra shot.

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida

 

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