CDC says no to FluMist, kids need flu shots

CDC says no to FluMist, kids need flu shots

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - It has been the "go-to" for parents wanting flu protection for their children: the needle-free, nasal spray FluMist.  But this year, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said "no" to this popular flu preventative.  It boils down to it simply not working.

You would be hard-pressed to find a child who likes getting a shot.  That is what's caused FluMist to be so popular with children, accounting for one-third of their flu vaccines, according to the CDC.

Pediatrician Anatole Karpovs with The Children's Clinic of Southwest Louisiana says it has been a great option, but not so this year.

"Kids don't like shots and they would much rather have a spray in their nose, however, I don't want to offer something that is not going to be effective," said Dr. Karpovs.

The Children's Clinic is following the recommendation from the CDC to not give FluMist this year.  Research from last flu season shows it was only three percent effective in children.

"They've recommended not using that this year," said Dr. Karpovs.  "It has just not been as effective and hasn't really prevented flu as much as we hoped it would for the last flu seasons in particular."

Compare that to the injectable flu vaccine's 63 percent effective rate and that takes FluMist off the table.

FluMist is a live virus vaccine, compared to the killed virus vaccine in the shot.

"That means that it's just parts of the virus that are injected with the vaccine," said Dr. Karpovs.  "They can't cause flu symptoms, but it can cause side effects just like any sort of injectable vaccine can do as far as fever and redness at the site of the injection."

Those symptoms are short-lived and Dr. Karpovs says actually show your body's immunologic response turning on.

"It tells your body, 'this is what the flu virus looks like, attack it when you see it and don't let it establish and get you sick,'" he said.

Dr. Karpovs recommends you get your flu shot now, especially if the eight million people who relied on FluMist make the switch to the shot.

"Because there's going to be a lot less demand for the FluMist, there's going to be a lot more demand for the injectable form of flu, so there may be some anticipation of shortage with that," he said.

Flu shots are available today and are recommended for people six months and older.

Pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, disputes the CDC's research on the effectiveness of FluMist.  

We talked to the Calcasieu Parish School System, which has offered FluMist on school campuses to students, and they say flu protection will rely on parents taking their children to get the flu shot this year.

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