Pediatricians say flu nasal spray ineffective, recommend shot instead

ELK GROVE, IL (WCMH) — September marks the start of flu season. New recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend opting for a traditional flu shot instead of a nasal spray.

The recommendation is part of the group’s flu vaccine recommendations for the 2016-2017 season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a similar recommendation in June. “This year the CDC is recommending not to use this one because last year’s vaccine effectiveness rating for the nasal spray vaccine was only three percent,” Tampa General Hospital’s Nancy Epps said.

The 3 percent effectiveness applied to children 2 through 17 in 2015-16, compared with 63 percent for the injected vaccine, according to the AAP.

“New research shows that the flu shot provided significantly better protection in recent flu seasons compared with the nasal spray vaccine,” said Henry H. Bernstein, DO, MHCM, FAAP, who co-authored the statement. “We want to provide children with the best protection possible against flu, and these recent studies show the flu shot is likely to provide a higher level of protection.”

The group also calls for mandatory vaccinations for health care workers. Tampa General Hospital has more than 7,500 employees, and, Epps says, 96 percent of them were vaccinated last year.

The CDC says a special effort should be made to vaccinate children and adolescents who have medical conditions that could lead to complications from flu. “Pregnant women can help protect themselves and their unborn children by getting the vaccine,” said Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAP. “Breastfeeding also offers newborns added protection against the flu. Because the flu virus is common and unpredictable, it can cause serious complications even in healthy children.”

Providers are encouraged to start offering the vaccine by October.

Epps encouraged all people older than 6 months to get vaccinated this flu season. “Even if you are young and healthy, have never had the flu before … It’s the best prevention that is out there so we do recommend it,” she said.

The CDC says flu season runs through the end of March.

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