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Panel Recommends Nasal Spray over Shot for Upcoming Flu Season

Update Date: Jun 27, 2014 09:31 AM EDT
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The best protection against the flu is the vaccine. Over the past few years, scientists have improved upon the flu shot, giving people more options to choose from. In a new report, health experts examined these options for young children between the ages two and eight. Based on their findings, the experts concluded that the nasal spray is more effective than the traditional shot.

"I agree with the panel's recommendation," said one expert in infectious disease, Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City reported by HealthDay. "Kids don't like shots, so the spray is a perfect alternative."

The latest recommendation was drafted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization (ACIP). The committee, which is the agency's vaccine advisory panel, reviewed data published in previous studies and discovered that children who received the nasal spray were 50 percent less likely to get the flu. However, experts cautioned that since the spray is relatively new, there is not a whole lot of information on its effects in the long term.

Currently there is only one nasal spray option, AstraZeneca's FluMist. FluMist was approved in 2003 for people between the ages of two and 49. The latest ACIP recommendation specifically applies to children between two and eight because the review did not find that this option increased protection for adults.

 "[The ACIP] is following steps that have already occurred in Europe," Dr. Gloria Riefkohl, a pediatrician at Miami Children's Hospital, stated. "In our practice, we recommend the nasal vaccine for all healthy children up to 21."

Dr. Riefkohl reminded parents that the ACIP recommendation does not discourage children from getting the flu shot. If parents are more comfortable giving their children the shot over the nasal spray, they should not hesitate to do so. The shot still provides good protection against the infection.

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