On June 22, 2016, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), best known as nasal spray or FluMist, should not be used during the 2016-17 flu season. The committee is formed by immunization experts who evaluate the effectiveness of prevention methods for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After reading the report for the last three years, the members of the ACIP told the CDC that the “nasal spray” had been extremely ineffective and that people should use traditional vaccines instead.

The flu season is a big thing in the United States, and it is custom for the governmental agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of the current treatments to provide people with guidelines. In May, the effectiveness reports from both nasal sprays and traditional vaccines were analyzed by a panel of experts. The resulting study shows that in children between 2 and 17 years old, LAIV was almost entirely ineffective while the shots maintained their numbers.

The popular, needle-free FluMist influenza vaccine has not protected kids or adults against flu for years and should not be used this coming flu season. Credit: Today.com

According to the CDC, this is perfectly normal, and how well immunization therapies work can vary from one season to another. The person receiving the shot, the environment and the nature of the circulating virus can render a vaccine useless.

“CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today voted that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season. ACIP continues to recommend annual flu vaccination, with either the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), for everyone 6 months and older,” reads the CDC media statement published on its website.

Parents with young children prefer using FluMist

LAIV is the only non-injection vaccine against influenza in the market. It is sold by MedImmune under the name of FluMist Quadrivalent. It is a nasal spray that carries a weakened version of the virus with the intention of triggering an immunologic reaction in the system. On the other hand, traditional vaccines like the inactive influenza vaccine (IIV) and the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) contain dead versions of the virus with the same objective. The idea is to make the immunologic system stronger by letting it practice with a “dummy” version of the real flu.

The ACIP provides the CDC with information so that the federal organization can take proper measures. If they say FluMist is not effective anymore, there is a really good chance that the medicine is going to disappear from the shelves. However, the director of the CDC has to read the report and approve it before it becomes policy. That usually happens in late summer when the CDC issues its first annual suggestions on the control and prevention of influenza.

This is bad news for MedImmune, who is the sole LAIV provider, but it benefits the flu shot industry. In fact, the announcement can make it difficult for the private sector to cover the vaccine demand. That is why the CDC said it would lend a hand to see that every medical center is well stocked this flu season.

Source: CDC