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What’s up with the Flu Vaccine This Year?

Many people have heard by now that there is no Flumist, the nasal spray version of the influenza vaccine, this year and are wondering what happened. The data for the previous influenza season came in over the summer and it was found that Flumist worked about 3% of the time (which is essentially zero!) whereas the injected influenza vaccine worked 63% of the time. That might not seem great either, but that is fairly average for a flu season. Considering this massive failure for unknown reasons, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended to the CDC that the Flumist not be used and the American Academy of Pediatrics agreed. In turn there is no Flumist available in the United States this year.

As a parent and pediatrician, I was not happy to hear the news! First of all, I’m going to have to convince my own children that they’re going to have to get shots again after I promised they wouldn’t have to. We had that conversation and let me just say, it didn’t go well! As a pediatrician, I also find the tale of the Flumist confusing. Just two years ago it was preferred to the injected vaccine, last year it was equivalent, and now this year it is defunct. No one knows why this happened. Nevertheless, vaccination against the influenza is very important. I have seen babies hospitalized and quite ill every year with the influenza virus and every year thousands die. While the world of medicine is far from perfect, we can still strive to protect as many young ones as we can. Much to my kids chagrin, they will be hauled in for their flu shots soon!

Influenza vaccines are now available at all Boulder Medical Center locations.

Lauren Brave, MD

Pediatric Department, Foothills

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