CDC Recommends against Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
FluMist, a quadrivalent (four-strain) live attenuated (as opposed to inactivated) nasal spray flu vaccine, has been recommended for children as a painless alternative to the inactivated flu vaccine injection. However, for the 2016-2017 flu season, which runs from approximately Oct. 2016 to Mar. 2017, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted that the nasal spray should not be used, while continuing to recommend that everyone over 6 months of age be vaccinated against the flu.
According to William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and Professor of Preventative Medicine and Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, FluMist has fallen out of favor because “[t]o everyone’s surprise and increasing consternation, this vaccine has performed quite poorly compared to the injectable vaccine.”
The CDC found that the live attenuated flu vaccine was virtually ineffective during the 2015-2016 flu season after FluMist was changed from trivalent (three-strain) to quadrivalent, while the inactivated flu injection was 49% effective against any flu strain.
A Canadian study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Aug. 16, 2016, found that a trivalent version of FluMist was 46-58% effective against the virus. AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of FluMist, cited similar effectiveness results and stated that the company was “working with the CDC to better understand its data to help ensure eligible patients continue to receive the vaccine in future seasons in the US.”
The National Vaccine Information Center, a nonprofit educational organization, stated: “It is shocking that government health officials have devised a National Vaccine Plan that lobbies for every single American to get a flu shot from cradle to the grave before the real science is in. Putting vaccine policy before the science is bad public health policy. Conducting uncontrolled vaccine experiments on people, who have been taught to believe and trust government health policy and now are being forced to obey strict ‘no exceptions’ vaccine laws, has far reaching consequences.”
AstraZeneca, “AstraZeneca Provides Update on FluMist Quadrivalent Vaccine in the US for the 2016-17 Influenza Season,” astrazeneca.com, June 23, 2016
CDC, “ACIP Votes Down Use of LAIV for 2016-2017 Flu Season,” cdc.gov, June 22, 2016
CDC, “The Flu Season,” cdc.gov, July 26, 2016
Tara Haella, “Study Says FluMist Vaccine Does Indeed Work, Contradicting CDC,” npr.org, Aug. 15, 2016
Mark Loeb, Margaret Russell, Vanessa Manning, et al., “Live Attenuated Versus Inactivated Vaccine in Hutterite Children: A Cluster Randomized Blinded Trial,” annals.org, Aug. 16, 2016
National Vaccine Information Center, “CDC Admits Flu Shots Fail Half the Time,” nvic.org, Apr. 26, 2016
Susan Scutti, “CDC Panel Recommends against Using FluMist Vaccine,” cnn.com, June 23, 2016