In the middle of summer, flu season may seem far off. Believe it or not though, most pharmacies will start to receive their shipments of flu vaccines beginning in August, only a couple of months from now.
This year that shipment will be missing one of its key players: Flumist nasal spray. The nasal spray option has been pulled from pharmacies, and will not be available for the 2016 – 2017 flu season.
Why will Flumist no longer be available?
The ACIP voted against using Flumist for the 2016 – 2017 flu season based on data from 2013 to 2016 that showed Flumist to be less effective compared to the flu shot.
Last flu season, Flumist was shown to be only 3% effective, compared to the flu shot which was shown to be 63% effective. This data also showed that Flumist had no protective benefit in children ages 2 through 17.
How effective are most flu vaccines?
Flu vaccine effectiveness varies from flu season to flu season but are typically 50 to 60% effective.
Who determined that Flumist will not be used this flu season?
Recently the CDC’s panel of experts known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted that Flumist should not be used for the 2016 – 2017 flu season. Find out more on the decision here.
Is this the final recommendation?
No. The final annual recommendation from the ACIP will be published in the late summer or early fall 2016.
Is Flumist still going to be made at all?
Yes. The manufacturer of Flumist, AztraZeneca, has data about its effectiveness that conflicts with the CDC’s findings. Their data shows that Flumist was 46 – 58% effective overall during the 2015-2016 flu season.
Flumist will likely continue to be distributed and used as planned in other countries, but this may change as the annual recommendations are released for those countries.
Are any other nasal spray flu vaccines available?
No. Flumist was the only flu vaccine available as a nasal spray.
Are there any alternative options for the flu shot?
The only choice at this time is the actual shot. If you or your child have an aversion to needles, you may be able to ask your doctor about the intradermal shot. Fluzone Intradermal uses a much smaller needle and is injected into the skin rather than the muscle.