After advising the public to avoid the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine for the last two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now giving it the green light.
A favorite of the needle-averse, the spray had not appeared to work as well against H1N1, a strain of the flu, in the last few seasons, according to the public health agency. But it’s expected to work better this year, according to the CDC and Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah Hospital.
It’s an encouraging sign, especially after an especially virulent flu season. In fact, the CDC said earlier this year, more than 172 children died of flu-related illness in the 2017-18 season, the highest on record when it comes to youths for a single season.
In Chicago alone, intensive care units saw more than 580 influenza-associated hospitalizations, city officials reported, a trend that peaked in January. Across the state, close to 2,300 were hospitalized, according to the state health department. Both city and statewide, most admitted to intensive care units were age 65 and older.
The news Thursday from the CDC may bode well for parents whose kids may be fearful of shots, but others should be proactive and get vaccinated as well, the University of Utah’s Dr. Pavia said.
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“Last year we had a very bad flu season,” he said. “The vast majority of deaths were in people who did not get the vaccine.”
The vaccine formula for H3N2, responsible for much of the “damage” last season, has also been tweaked, he said.
Also important: The CDC is 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. This is the second year the CDC has made the recommendation, Dr. Pavia said.