Health Care

Improved FluMist nasal spray approved to return next flu season

Improved FluMist nasal spray approved to return next flu season

A 2015-16 influenza vaccine effectiveness study conducted by the ACIP found FluMist 46 percent effective, with zero effectiveness against the H1N1 strain.

An expert panel voted Wednesday to recommend use of FluMist and the CDC is likely to accept the recommendation, according to Dr. Kathleen M. Neuzil, a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The vaccine will still be subject to annual strain approval by the FDA for next season.

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An official from AstraZeneca, the company that makes FluMist, told the Associated Press that the problem with the vaccine has been identified and corrected.

ACIP voted 12-2 to add FluMist back to the mix of flu vaccines that doctors and clinics can use.

Next flu season you'll be able to get your vaccine without a needle. It's already the case that most Americans don't get a flu vaccine every year, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend they do.

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Overall, there have been 4,699 flu-related hospitalizations during the current season, which is an increase of more than 1,000 from last year's total, and the most during the last five years. Limited quantities of FluMist (which remained licensed but not ACIP-recommended) continue to be available in the USA for the current flu season.

The vaccine remains on the recommended list in Canada and the European Union. The CDC is expected to take the committee's advice. But real-world efficacy is a far better measure of how well a vaccine actually works than lab tests, and we haven't seen another flu season dominated by H1N1 since the 2009-2010 season (though there's bound to be one in the future). 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%.

AstraZeneca says it will supply FluMist to the USA market next season.

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