While most adults receive the annual flu shot the traditional way, i.e. intramuscular injection, there is also a nasal spray version of the influenza vaccine offered yearly, namely FluMist®. FluMist® is the only non-injection based flu vaccine on the market and was first licensed in 2003 and approved for healthy people age 2 to 49. Unlike the traditional seasonal flu vaccine made from a killed virus, FluMist® is a live attenuated vaccine, which means it is made from a live but weakened version of the influenza virus. Despite its approval for children and adults alike, it is mainly recommended for children because early studies showed that FluMist® was better at preventing flu in healthy children ages 2 to 8 than the alternative injectable forms of the vaccine. On June 22, 2016, health officials at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented preliminary study results to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that show that the nasally-administered FluMist® was ineffective at preventing the flu during the 2015-2016 flu season. The CDC studied the effectiveness of the vaccine, and found that, during the 2015-16 flu season, nasal spray was only 3 percent effective against flu in children 2 to 17. By comparison, the injected vaccine was 63 percent effective in the same age group.
The reason for the recent poor performance of FluMist® is currently unknown. However, how well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season and can be affected by a number of factors, including characteristics of the person being vaccinated, the similarity between vaccine viruses and circulating viruses, and even which vaccine is used.
This is the third year that FluMist® has failed to protect children from the flu, and as a result, the ACIP has voted to recommend FluMist® not be given to the population during the upcoming 2016-2017 flu season. This recommendation must be reviewed and approved by the CDC’s director before it becomes CDC policy. The final annual recommendations on the prevention and control of influenza with vaccines will be published in a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Recommendations and Reports in late summer or early fall. Despite the anticipated loss of this form of vaccine, the CDC and other experts continue to strongly recommend that just about everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated because influenza can cause serious illness and is blamed for thousands of deaths each year. If you think you or someone you know has been injured by a vaccine, compensation for the injury may be available. To find out if you qualify to file a case under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program click and let the vaccine litigation experts at RawlsMcNelis provide the answers.