A new vaccine alternative for the flu might be available for children ages 2 to 8 in the form of a nasal spray.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine advisory panel from the Advisory Committee on Immunization (ACIP) said that children who get the nasal spray are half as likely to develop the flu as compared to those receiving traditional flu shots. "I agree with the panel's recommendation," said one expert in infectious disease, Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, Health Day News reported. "Kids don't like shots, so the spray is a perfect alternative."
The FluMist, Fluenz, which is produced by AstraZeneca pharmaceutical, is made from a live but weakened flu virus, according to the CDC. "Live virus gives a better immunity," Siegel said. "However, some kids can't take the mist, namely those with compromised immune systems and kids with asthma, who could have a respiratory response," he said. "So when in doubt, get the shot."
The nasal spray is approved for healthy people ages 2 to 49 years old who are not pregnant. People who are over 50 years old, have asthma, have chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular renal, hepatic, neurologic/neuromuscular, hematologic, or metabolic disorders should also not use the spray. The CDC recommends that when people are in doubt about the spray to just get the shot.
According to the Associated Press, this is the only spray vaccine on the market, and it was first licensed in 2003. However, medical groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics objected giving this over the traditional injection. It’s more expensive and can’t be used for everyone. They also note that physicians have already ordered their 2014 flu shot batches.
FluMist costs about $23 and conventional flu shots range from $8 to $22 per injection. AstraZeneca will make more for the upcoming flu season — five million more from last year, totaling 18 million doses. According to the most recent data, in 2010, there were 500 flu-related deaths. This new nasal spray could help lower that number.
However, this new product might make some feel they’re getting an inferior product with the traditional injection. "We really feel you shouldn't place (doctors) and families in a situation where if they don't receive the live vaccine, they feel they're getting an inferior product. Because it may not be an inferior product," said Dr. Michael Brady of Ohio State University.