The one time the nasal spray flu vaccine could’ve prevented a record number of child deaths, the feds pulled it.
Last year's flu season was really bad because of particular Influenza A, called H3N2, that was circulating last year causing more illness. The feds recommended against the nasal spray flu vaccine during last year’s flu season because it didn’t work as well against H1N1. Unfortunately, it worked best for H3N2, which was responsible for a record number of child deaths.
Catherine Troisi, infectious diseases specialist at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston said in years past there's been some controversy that the nasal spray flu vaccine didn't work. But, then again, neither did last year's shot, with a 40 percent efficacy rate.
There are four types of influenza in the nasal spray flu vaccine. Last year, the type A influenzas were circulating—H1N1 and H3N2—with the later, a virulent virus, doing most of the damage.
“It appeared that it was working pretty well against H3N2. Where it wasn’t working so well was against the H1N1,” said Troisi.
She said the nasal spray creators went back and tweaked the H1N1 virus to grow better.
Troisi said the advantage is that it encourages more vaccination for children two years of age all the way up to adults 49 years old.
“There were 179 children who died of influenza last year, which is the highest ever recorded. Eighty percent of those children were not vaccinated, which is just a tragedy, that perhaps their death could have been averted,” said Troisi.
This year’s flu vaccine has been available since July.
Some doctors have already ordered their stock, which might not include the nasal spray, so you might have to call around and see who has it.
CDC recommends getting your flu vaccine before the end of October.
Troisi said the flu virus is mysterious and doctors can't predict when it will start. Usually peak is around January or February, but can be earlier or later.
To guess what's circulating in the Northern hemisphere in the fall, they look to what was circulating in the Southern Hemisphere during the winter.
The CDC is also recommending those with severe egg allergies to get any version of the vaccine. Previously, some with egg allergies had to be careful to avoid egg-based vaccines, or to get the vaccines administered at sites that could monitor them for allergic reactions.
There are between 12,000 to 56,000 deaths every year just from seasonal flu.