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Nasal Flu Mist Doesn't Protect Against the Flu, New Report Says

The CDC and AAP are recommending against giving kids the nasal mist flu vaccine this year, saying it doesn't work.

little girl getting flu shot from doctor Shutterstock
If given a choice between traumatizing your kid with a shot to protect against the flu, or having a nasal mist administered, well, I'm pretty sure I know what you'd pick. At least if your child is anything like my daughter, who fears shots more than anything else in life. But now a new report says the needle-free FluMist influenza vaccine is ineffective for both kids and adults, and actually has been for years!

According to NBC News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending against getting the mist this upcoming flu season. According to a press release, the AAP also advises that during the 2016-2017 season, parents should not give their kids the mist, which is made from live attenuated influenza vaccine.

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The problem is, this new information may leave some health care providers in short supply of the vaccine come fall, although the CDC says it will work to make sure this doesn't happen. And the AAP said it "will be working with CDC and vaccine manufacturers to make sure pediatricians and families have access to appropriate vaccines, and to help pediatricians who have already ordered intranasal vaccines."

The CDC said in a statement that, traditionally, "Nasal spray flu vaccine accounts for about one-third of all flu vaccines given to children."

This past year, kids who received the mist were only 3 percent protected against the flu, which the CDC says is basically like going unprotected. "In comparison, inactivated influenza vaccine (flu shots) had a vaccine effectiveness estimate of 63 percent against any flu virus among children 2 years through 17 years."

The CDC further explained the report, saying "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."

For its part, AstraZeneca, the drug company behind FluMist, said in a statement that other research contradicts these findings. "FluMist Quadrivalent was 46-58 percent effective overall against the circulating influenza strains during the 2015-2016 season," the company said.

But why risk it? Clearly it's best to plan on vaccinating your child via injection, however unpleasant. As Benard Dreyer, MD, FAAP, President of the AAP said, "The AAP continues to strongly recommend parents immunize all children older than 6 months against influenza every year. Flu vaccine is the best way we have to protect children, and being immunized every year significantly reduces the risk of a child being hospitalized due to flu."

Yup, I'd rather put my child through a moment of pain, rather than the terror of a hospital stay.

Will you plan to get your child the flu shot this upcoming season?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.