The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking doctors to not use the FluMist nasal spray vaccine for this year’s flu season.
A committee of immunization experts found that FluMist was totally ineffective at preventing the flu this past year. This was compared to the standard flu shot which was 63 percent effective.
The Food and Drug Administration first approved the nasal spray in 2003, and it became a popular method of administering vaccines to young children.
Dr. Andrew Pavia is a Professor of Pediatric Infectious Disease at the University of Utah.
“The reasons are pretty appealing, no shot, it’s easy, and in the first dozen years or so that the vaccine was on the market it worked very well and in some years worked better than the shot," he says. "So this is a really big loss to the flu world. We’ve lost a tool that was easy on kids and attractive to parents.”
The two vaccines are created differently. The nasal spray is made of a weakened flu virus that is still live, while the flu shot is composed of a dead virus. The committee isn’t sure why FluMist hasn’t been effective and says it might be tricky to figure out why it isn’t working.
Dr. Pavia still recommends that everyone gets a flu shot.
“It’s really important that people realize that even though the flu vaccines that we have, the flu shot, aren’t perfect vaccines but they save a large number of lives every year and prevent a lot of hospitalizations” he says.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue to study nasal spray vaccines and may approve them again in the future.