U.S. health advisers say the nasal spray flu vaccine is more effective than the traditional shot for children ages two to eight.
This declaration comes from the Advisory Committee on Immunization, which makes recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding vaccines. The panel said studies show children who get the spray are about half as likely to get the flu as those who receive the shot.
The nasal flu vaccine called FluMist is made by AstraZeneca and has been available since 2003. It’s not just for kids; it’s been approved for use in people ages 2 to 49. But studies have not shown the nasal spray works better than the shot in adults.
FluMist contains a live, weakened influenza virus while the shot is made with a killed virus. It’s more expensive at about $23 versus the traditional shot that starts at $8. But many insurance plans cover the nasal spray, including the federal Vaccines for Children Program.
Not all kids should get the spray instead of the shot, including those with weakened immune systems or asthma.
The director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, will make a final ruling on the committee’s recommendations, but even if approved, it will come too late for this fall’s upcoming flu season. Most doctors have already placed their flu vaccine orders, so they will mostly likely wait until next year to follow the advice.
Even so, AstraZeneca said it is ramping up its production and plans to make 18 million doses of FluMist this year compared to 13 million last year. Those vaccines will be distributed worldwide.