Oct 26, 2016

Posted by in Family Practice, General, Internal Medicine | 0 Comments

No FluMist for 2016

no-flumist-for-2016If you are anything like me, you loved it when the mist became an option instead of the shot for kids. While it feels bizarre to get that stuff shot up your nose, it was certainly easier on the kids than a shot. In fact, it really became no big deal.

Well, gone are those days. The mist isn’t an option this year and I’m annoyed about it. So, when the manager of Pharmacy shared an article that explains it I wanted to share the details with you all: What’s Going on with the Nasal FluMist Vaccine? Tara Haelle, Forbes, June 27, 2016. Here are some parts that may interest you:

A surprising announcement came out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week: the nasal flu vaccine—a favorite for needle-phobic kids and once seemingly more effective for children—is now not recommended at all for the 2016-2017 flu season. It’s no less safe than it was before, but new evidence calls into question how effective it is.

The reversal, though nearly unanimously made, has heads spinning and providers scrambling to make adjustments for the change in recommendations before autumn, when flu season kicks into gear. Such unexpected news inevitably leads to confusion among the public, a concern expressed by several members of the committee that made the decision.

So what does all this mean and why is it happening? Read on for answers to all the questions most people likely have at the moment.

What has been recommended in the past?

Since 2013, the live nasal vaccine was one option for children ages 2 and up. In fact, many providers and public health workers suggested it was the better option because the evidence suggested it was more effective than the other flu vaccines available.

So then why did they not recommend it at all this year?

Despite the data of previous years, current data cannot show it to be effective. That doesn’t mean it’s definitely ineffective—it just means that researchers do not currently have evidence that can show it definitely works.

The flu shot, then, is currently superior to the nasal vaccine in protecting against flu. To recommend the nasal vaccine despite these findings could be potentially unethical—recommending a vaccine with no established protective benefit when another clearly beneficial one exists.

Did the vaccine never work?

The vaccine has definitely been effective in the past. But current evidence, especially against the H1N1 flu virus, says otherwise.

But my kid and I hate needles—we loved the nasal vaccine! Any chance it could come back?

Yes, it could be recommended in the future if the evidence shows it effectively protects against flu. That is definitely possible, especially if new flu strains are circulating or the H1N1 one mutates. We almost certainly have not seen the end of FluMist.

Does this mean the CDC can’t figure out what’s best?

Not at all—in fact, it’s the opposite. This announcement is actually good news in at least one respect: it shows just how much the committee is staying up to date with the most recent data, continually re-evaluating the evidence, taking it seriously and relying on it to make decisions. This is actually what science working properly looks like—a constant reassessment and course correction as needed when new evidence emerges.

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So, there you go. Not the best news, but at least there is another option – the flu shot. I guess I’ll have to get my game face back on this year. Bring it on kiddos, I’m bigger than you and let’s face it, you got your stubbornness from me-this is happening!!

FYI: Flu Shots are Available at Pella Regional’s Pharmacy on the Square on Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 – 5 pm.

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