It’s only June, and summer has just started, but medical experts are already talking about the flu. In particular, a panel from the Centers for Disease Control is recommending against the FluMist vaccine for this upcoming influenza season.
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If you don’t already know, the FluMist vaccine is not an injection. Instead, it’s a nasal spray that contains a live (yet weakened) influenza virus and doesn’t involve needles at all. Approved in 2003, the vaccine has been under careful study since, and recent reports say that it just doesn’t work as well as it’s supposed to.
The numbers certainly reflect that — a study from the company that manufactures the nasal spray showed that FluMist was only 46 percent effective against the flu, while the traditional injection was 65 percent effective. However, stats from the CDC showed that it had zero effectiveness against one strain of influenza. Not good!
The panel’s recommendation still has to be approved by the CDC director before taking effect. However, this is certainly bad news for those who are needle phobic. Children in particular often prefer the mist over the shot (which is understandable), with as many as one-third of pediatric patients receiving the mist.
This does lead to another concern, however. Vaccine orders have already been placed by many care providers, which means that if the spray is no longer recommended, there are fears of a shortage of traditional vaccines. The CDC notes, however, that it will work closely with manufacturers to ensure there is no short supply of influenza vaccines this coming flu season.
No matter what the CDC director ultimately decides, it’s probably wise to avoid the FluMist and go straight for a shot this upcoming fall. Flu season tends to peak between November and March, so doctors recommend getting your jab whenever it becomes available, usually around September.