The nasal flu vaccine, FLUMIST, will not be available this year as an alternative to the traditional shot in the arm.
Hasbro Children’s Hospital helped test the vaccine before it was FDA approved in 2003.
“The studies that we did here when we looked at the efficacy of the live viral vaccine — they were good,” Dr. Penelope Dennehy, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Hasbro, said.
Since then, the vaccine has been a popular choice for children as young as 2 years old, working a bit differently than the traditional shot in the arm.
“The FLUMIST is a live, attenuated virus,” Dennehy said. “It’s what’s called cold adapted, which means that it doesn’t grow below about here, in your airway, and the idea is that it induces immunity by infecting your upper airway but doesn’t give you all the complications of influenza, which is really the result of the virus infecting your lower airway.”
But somewhere along the way, FLUMIST proved to be a dud. Its efficacy is now miniscule.
“Three percent,” Dennehy said while looking at the CDC research during the last three years. “That’s dismal.”
It’s especially small when compared to the efficacy of the flu shot, which is about 63 percent.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that children should not get the nasal vaccine this year.
Instead, it recommended that all children six months and older get the flu shot. For children under the age of nine, Dennehy said if they’ve never received any type of flu vaccine in the past, including the intranasal vaccine, they will need two fly vaccines about a month apart in order for it to be protective.