The Nasal Flu Vaccine Doesn’t Work

17 Sep

An advisory committee at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that the nasal flu vaccine not be used this flu season.

There have been two general ways to get vaccinated in recent years., the traditional shot in the arm or a nasal spray approved for healthy people ages two to 49. But the nasal vaccine, often referred to as FluMist, was completely ineffective against the dominant flu strain last year, a strain labeled H1N1, and it has been significantly less effective than the shot for three consecutive years.

AstraZeneca, the company that makes the nasal vaccine, and the CDC have been working to figure out the cause of this ineffectiveness, but as of early August, answers remained elusive.

What to do:  Opt for the flu shot this year, not the nasal spray, even if you (or your children) have an version to injections. There is a good chance that the nasal vaccine will not protect you.  But do not consider the ineffectiveness of the nasal flu vaccine an excuse to not get vaccinated at all. While the nasal vaccine was ineffective last year, the flu shot was quite effective, it reduced people’s odds of getting the flu by nearly two-thirds.  If you greatly dislike shots, you can reevaluate the effectiveness of the nasal vaccine in future years. Studies have indicated that the nasal vaccine was just as effective (and in some cases even more effective) than the injected vaccine prior to the past three years, so it is possible that it will be effective again in the future.

Source: Bottom Line Personal 9-1-2016 Bottom Line Personal interviewed William Schaffner, MD, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He is medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

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