Tina Tan, MD, Attending Physician in Infectious Diseases at Lurie Children’s and Chairperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Infectious Diseases, provides information on this year’s flu vaccine and why the nasal spray will not be given.
September and October are the start of the flu season, which means it is time for you and your children to get your flu shots. Notice how I said flu shots? That is because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through surveillance studies, has found that the nasal spray vaccine (used since 2003) was not at all effective in children over the last three influenza seasons. In fact, the CDC estimated that the effectiveness of the nasal vaccine in children last year was around 3 percent, which is no better than giving your child nasal saline. Compare that to the 65 to 70 percent effectiveness with the injectable vaccine.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that for the 2016-2017 influenza season that physicians should not use the nasal vaccine in the pediatric population.
At what age should my child receive the flu vaccine?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Children are more susceptible to influenza than adults because their immune systems are still developing. It’s important to take the proper precautions during flu season to prevent your child from becoming ill with influenza, such as vaccinating your child, making sure they wash their hands frequently, and reminding them to cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze.
Why doesn’t the nasal spray work anymore?
We are not sure why it is not effective. The CDC noticed the nasal vaccine effectiveness has been waning significantly over the last three years hence the recommendation for not using the influenza nasal vaccine by the CDC and the AAP.
Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your family’s chances of getting sick with the flu and spreading it to others.