Another Version Of The Flu Vaccine Might Return Next Season

AstraZeneca's FluMist wins CDC committee's backing after two missed years

A CDC advisory committee has recommended the use of the nasal spray influenza vaccine (FluMist Quadrivalent-AstraZeneca) in the next influenza season.

The vaccine's maker, AstraZeneca, said a small study shows a new version appears to work better. In 2014, the ACIP made a rare "preferred recommendation" that FluMist be used for children aged 2 to 8, because it was easier to distribute in schools than the typical shots.

Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told STAT that many physician offices have already ordered vaccine stocks for next flu season.

That could boost the number of children who get vaccinated and at least partially protected from the flu virus, which has contributed to the deaths of 84 kids since October and is likely to produce record hospitalizations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Two-panel members said they were anxious about hurting children and further undermining the public's perception of the safety of flu vaccines if FluMist comes back on the market and does not work well. This was in comparison to the flu shot, which was 65 percent effective across all strains, according to CNN.

But others said they were equally anxious that kids are not being vaccinated against flu because the needle-free option is not available, and they noted that FluMist is clearly better than not getting vaccinated at all.

Grohskopf said a thorough CDC review confirmed FluMist did not work well against H1N1 in recent years, although it was effective against the other flu strains.

AstraZeneca said in a statement that researchers tested the new version of FluMist on 200 US kids aged 2 to 4, and found it was 23 percent effective in preventing the flu. This past year, H3N2 has dominated. A review of data from 2013 through 2016 showed that the vaccine offered children nearly no protection against flu; in the 2015-2016 season LAIV protection rate was only 3%.


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