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Get the Tissues Ready

There are going to be some tears this fall. Why?

Flumist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, has been deemed “ineffective” by the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), a division of the CDC. As a result, it is not being recommended for use this fall. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also supported this position, and it has been removed from the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.

What does this mean? ACIP reviewed “breakthrough” flu cases over the past several years, and found Flumist to be much less effective than the flu shot for the strain of influenza which was most common. In fact, the numbers quoted for children ages 2-17 were only 3% effectiveness, with the Flumist, and 63% effectiveness, with the Flu shot.

As a pediatrician, I often tell patients when they come in for their well child checks that they won't need another shot until they are eleven......and I'm sure some will challenge me this fall, when they find out they are getting a flu shot, instead of the “nose squirt.”

However, in the end, the important message to drive home is, we want to protect against influenza. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone, ages 6 months and older. Those at greatest risk of having influenza related complications are the very young (including infants too young to be vaccinated), those who have chronic disease (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, to name a few) and the elderly. Influenza is not pleasant, at all. Nor are its potential secondary complications, which can be life threatening.

Despite Flumist not being recommended this flu vaccine season, the CDC estimates adequate supply of the Flu shot. Vaccine usually starts arriving in doctors' offices in mid to late August. If you haven't already scheduled your child's flu shot, call today.

And, have the tissues ready:-)
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