New discoveries about FluMist emerge

Lynn RoyerDallas County Public Health

Americans will have to do without the easier, nasal spray form of flu vaccine next flu season, a panel of experts decided Wednesday. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) committee on Wednesday advised against using the FluMist vaccine, saying it appeared less effective than the flu “shot” vaccines.

Lynn Royer, Influenza Clinic Manager at Dallas County Public Health, said the county will continue its Influenza Immunization program, although the FluMist will not be available.

“We will not have supply of the FluMist,” she said. “We will not administer a vaccine that has shown no protective benefit.”

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said preliminary data showed the FluMist’s expected effectiveness against any flu virus in children 2 to 17 years old is 3 percent, compared to a shot’s 63 percent expected effectiveness.

Before and shortly after FluMist was licensed, data showed it was as or more effective than an inactivated influenza shot. The CDC said it did not know why the vaccine had performed poorly recently.

Prior to its recent poor performance, all evidence showed the spray worked better than the flu shot in children under the age of 8. And, during those sunny days, the CDC committee expressed a preference for the mist over the shot.

The CDC committee is working with the Food and Drug Administration as well as the makers of FluMist, AstraZeneca, to determine the reasons why the data shows the vaccine suddenly became ineffective and to potentially provide effective vaccine in the coming years.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months or older receive a flu vaccine. Vaccination is especially important for women who are pregnant, children and the elderly.