In public health, we know that flu is unpredictably affecting different populations at different times with different strains (remember the drift in 2014). Last week, CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that due to low vaccine effectiveness, the nasal spray flu vaccine not be used this upcoming flu season. Once finalized by CDC, these recommendations will be published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The live attenuated influenza vaccine, known as the nasal spray flu vaccine, is the only non-injectable flu vaccine. Around eight percent of the 1,000,000 plus flu vaccines that Arizona distributed last year were the nasal spray, which pharmacies and clinics will now need to replace with injectable vaccines for the 2016-2017 season. Manufacturer projections predict that the supply should be sufficient to meet the increased demand.
CDC continues to recommend annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older, as flu vaccines are the first and best way to prevent influenza. There are years of data showing that people who get vaccinated are better protected from flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and hospitalizations.
My kids got the nasal spray vaccine last year, but this year they’re getting the shot. Just remember what Arizona experienced with the flu last season (see here for our record flu peak). While flu is unpredictable, our prevention strategies don’t have to be.