Nasal Flu Vaccine Now Recommended For Children

October 7, 2019

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Although the weather hasn't changed much from summer, it is time for this year's flu vaccine. In a change of recent policy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both say the nasal spray, along with a flu shot, are equally recommended for children.  That's a change from when both agencies recommended parents skip FluMist nasal spray over the past three years. Improvements to the nasal spray, which was reformulated to be more effective. Unlike the flu shot which uses a dead virus, the nasal mist uses a weakened live virus that can’t infect you, but they can “teach” the immune system to recognize and fight the flu virus if you're exposed to it. As to which one to use? It's unclear exactly how well the reformulated nasal vaccine worked in the U.S. last season, because too few people here received FluMist then for scientists to estimate its effectiveness. But preliminary estimates from the U.K., where a nasal spray flu vaccine is commonly given to elementary-school-age kids, found it was 80% effective against H1N1. That encouraging news helped bolster the AAP’s decision to recommend it for this season. But make sure you and your family members are inoculated one way or the other, experts say. Most children who die from the flu are unvaccinated, according to the CDC. The nasal spray is approved for people between ages 2 and 49, except for children with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and several other groups. Check with your doctor to see which method would work best for you and your family. And last season’s flu vaccine, both shot and spray, had little effect against H3N2, the other strain of influenza A that circulated last year. (The vaccines developed for this season contain an updated strain of H3N2, which may work better against this year’s flu.)

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

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