Do Not Use the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine This Year, CDC Says

Known as the nasal spray flu vaccine, the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) will take the bench for the 2016 to 2017 flu season.

Known as the nasal spray flu vaccine, the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) will take the bench for the 2016 to 2017 flu season.

LAIV, branded as FluMist Quadrivalent, is a trivalent (three-component) vaccine that was first licensed in 2003. To date, it’s the only non-injection-based flu vaccine on the market, but the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – voted that the nasal spray should not be used in the upcoming flu season because trial results show lower effectiveness than it had from 2013 to 2016.

This does not, however, change the fact that the CDC recommends everyone who is at least six months and older receive one of the flu shots — inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV).

This isn’t the first time that LAIV had less than desirable outcomes.

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Data from the 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015 showed poor vaccine effectiveness (VE) with LAIV. But moving forward the trend seems to be continuing. This past May, preliminary data revealed that LAIV only protected 3% of children ages 2 to 17 during the 2015 to 2016 flu season. On the other hand, IIV had a 63% vaccine effectiveness (VE) in the same age range.

Vaccines are recreated every year to tackle the flu strain(s) expected to be prominent, but there are various other factors which contribute to its effectiveness. Characteristics can differ from person to person can have an impact as well as which virus is circulating and which vaccine someone receives.

The thing is, earlier trials showed comparable outcomes, if not better, between LAIV and IIV VE. However, this didn’t hold true after licensure.

The question on everyone’s mind is why isn’t the LAIV working well? This remains a mystery, unfortunately.

The nasal spray was projected to supply up to 14 million doses (8%) of the 171 million to 176 million total flu vaccines in the United States this upcoming season.

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