Nasal spray flu vaccine not effective this year

Posted at 11:08 PM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 00:08:57-04

It's health news many parents will not like to hear. The nasal flu vaccine is not effective this year, and it's recommended people get the flu shot instead of FluMist. 

Doctors say the mist has been a popular option for children since it is painless. Some adults have also liked the spray, but the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says the FluMist is only 3% effective this year. The shot is roughly 60% effective.

That's why clinics likes Methodist Physicians Clinic is not even offering the spray this year. People are caught off guard to learn that. "There's definitely some surprise and disappointment, but thankfully I haven't encountered a family who has declined our flu vaccine because of it," said Dr. Rosann Nichols, a pediatrician with Methodist Physicians Clinic. 

Dr. Nichols says they still highly recommend a flu vaccine for people. Vaccines are offered to people six months of age and older. The FluMist had been offered to patients ages 2-49. If it's a child's first time getting a vaccine and they are under 8 years old, they will need to get two doses. If they've received one before, they will only need one shot. 

Since babies under 6 months old cannot be vaccinated, Dr. Nichols suggests parents, grandparents, siblings and caregivers make sure to get vaccinated if they'll be around babies.

Dr. Nichols says young children are more susceptible to complications from flu and are in environments where illnesses spread so she encourages parents to get the flu shot for their child even if they preferred the nasal spray.

"Obviously anything that is not a shot and not painful is a great mode of delivery in the pediatric population and even for lots of adults," Dr. Nichols went on to say, "we're as disappointed as anybody that it didn't prove to be an effective option in the coming year but at the same time the benefit of that flu vaccine far outweighs the minor discomfort that the vaccine gives."

As to why the FluMist has proven ineffective, medical professionals are looking into that. Dr. Nichols says studies had shown it was effective when it came out. A few years ago, they changed from a 3-strain formula to a 4-strain formula. That may be when problems occurred. Without an answer as to what went wrong, it's unclear if and when the FluMist will be recommended in upcoming seasons.