Good news for shot-averse kids and others who cringe at the sight of needles: After a two-year hiatus from the market, the nasal spray flu vaccine has been re-formulated and is back as we enter the 2018-2019 flu season.
FluMist was first licensed in 2003, and was welcomed as a needle-free alternative to the flu shot, which made it especially easy to administer in school clinics. But in 2016, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee stopped recommending FluMist because it didn’t perform well against a particular flu strain, the H1N1 strain. In some cases, the nasal spray vaccine offered only 3-percent protection for children between ages 2 and 17, compared with up to 63-percent protection from the shot.
While we call it “the flu” in general, influenza can actually be caused by various strains, which evolve. Every flu season, there are predominant strains of the virus, so medical experts predict which strains will be most active, and they formulate the vaccines in response. This year, a re-formulated nasal spray is once again an option, and the CDC states on its fact sheet that “no preference is expressed for any influenza vaccine over another”
“The main advantage of the nasal spray is that it’s painless,” says Dr. Robert Segal, co-founder of LabFinder.com, which allows patients to book appointments online. “It’s the best alternative for those who don’t like needles.”
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