Flu Vaccines: Mist vs. Injection for Children
Healthcare officials have long recommended the flu vaccines for children. However, in a rare move, federal health experts recently indicated a preference for the nasal spray influenza vaccine over the traditional injected version. The recommendation came as a result of studies, which indicated the inhaled version may have greater efficacy. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of healthcare professionals who advise the CDC, made its recommendation after comparing the two formulas.
What is the Flu?
A contagious virus that is caused by the influenza virus, the flu is spread from one infected person to the nose or throat of another. According to the CDC, everyone over 6 months of age should receive a yearly influenza vaccination. The flu may pose serious health hazards as it may lead to pneumonia as well as high fevers and seizures in children.
Flumist is an influenza vaccination that takes the form of a mist that is inhaled into the nostrils. The formula is made from a weakened virus. The nasal spray is approved for children 2 and older and adults under the age of 50. People who are allergic to eggs or previous versions of the flu vaccine should avoid Flumist. The inhaled vaccine is also not recommended for anyone who has pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and renal, neuromuscular, neurological, hematologic or hepatic disorders. Flumist is also not for individuals who suffer from immunosuppression.
LAIV vs. IIV
Although both weakened, active virus vaccines and inactive virus vaccines (IIV) have been deemed safe for children, researchers believe LAIV may have additional benefits. In 2011, researchers concluded that LAIV had an 83-percent rate of efficacy in children between the ages of 6 months and 7 years. However, results from the trials did not support efficacy in people over the age of 7. Despite the evidence of a higher level of efficacy, healthcare professionals remind physicians and healthcare providers not to delay vaccination or forego administering IIV vaccines if the nasal LAIV is not available. Furthermore, LAIV vaccines should not be administered to children who have shown signs of asthma or wheezing within the previous 12 months. Higher cost may also be a concern for patients and healthcare providers as the nasal mist is priced slightly higher.
Overall, ACIP recommends that health professionals maintain both LAIV and IIV vaccines on hand and administer both. The advisory group has also urged the importance of informing parents that their child will not be at a disadvantage if he or she receives the IIV vaccine instead.