FluMist, a nasal spray influenza vaccine that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for persons aged two through 49, was advised against by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel for the coming flu seasons.
"To everyone's surprise and increasing consternation, this vaccine has performed quite poorly compared to the injectable vaccine," said infectious disease specialist, Dr. William Schaffner.
The panel included 15 immunization experts who compared the efficacy of FluMist with the standard injected flu shot. Experts used data from the most recent flu season as well as those of previous years.
The suggestion from the panel will now go to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, before taking effect.
The major difference between the nasal spray and the shot is that FluMist is a live attenuated (weakened) influenza vaccine that is introduced into the body whereas the shot is an inactivated influenza virus.
The FDA approved FluMist in 2003. It isproduced by MedImmune, whichproduces two variants of FluMist: a trivalent, which protects against three strains of the flu, and a quadrivalent which protects against four strains of the flu.
"We agree with [the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices'] decision today to recommend health care providers and parents use only the inactivated vaccine," said Dr. Benard Dreyer, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which also gave its support to the decision during the hearing.