Product News and Recalls

CDC: FluMist No Longer a Viable Vaccination Method

cdc recommends against flumistThe injection-averse will be less than pleased to learn that the CDC is recommending against the use of the FluMist flu vaccine for this year’s flu season. Why?

According to a flu expert at the agency: “We could find no evidence [the spray] was effective.”

The news will impact more than those that simply preferred the nasal spray delivery methodology offered by FluMist. Licensed and marketed by AstraZeneca since 2003, the CDC’s Advisory Panel on Immunization Practices actually once recommended FluMist over traditional flu shots for children. This latest announcement, then, is sure to have significant sales repercussions for the pharmaceutical giant.

The composition of the flu vaccine changes from year to year as each season brings with it a new strain of influenza. Researchers and manufacturers must then determine which strains they will try to account for in the current year’s vaccine. As the flu has evolved, FluMist has simply become less and less effective.

Last year saw the lowest protection rates in the product’s history as just three percent of children vaccinated with the nasal spray actually showed some degree of flu protection. Not only is this statistically insignificant, but it is also dangerous. For comparison, those between the ages of 2 to 17 that were vaccinated via the traditional injection method showed a 63 percent protection rate from a virus that still kills hundreds of thousands around the world every year.

Concerns of an injection shortage have been raised as result of the CDC’s announcement. As popularity of the nasal spray grew, nearly one-third of the flu vaccines given to children were given via FluMist – a number that reaches into the millions. CDC officials, as well as those from the American Academy of Pediatrics, have already stated that they will work together to ensure that enough injection vaccine is produced to meet the new demands.

The case of FluMist is interesting because the CDC’s action wasn’t taken in response to a faulty aspect of the delivery system or some other aspect of the product that could cause harm. Rather, it was the natural evolution of the virus itself that rendered a very popular vaccination method virtually useless on a global scale. Researchers are sure to study the implications of these events across other dangerous infections as well; especially as fears grow of germs that are no longer responding to antibiotics.