News: What You Need To Know About This Years Flu Shot

Posted on August 3, 2016




If you don't like needles, you'll be out of luck this flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in June that the popular FluMist nasal spray hasn't worked in recent years and shouldn't be used during the upcoming flu season.


No More Flu Mist

According to the CDC, nasal sprays account for about one-third of all flu vaccinations given to children.

Manufactured by MedImmune, the FluMist nasal vaccine contains weakened strains of flu virus. When introduced to the body, the weakened virus stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies against the flu virus. Therefore, if you're exposed to the virus, your body will be prepared to kill the virus once it enters your bloodstream. You can learn more about how the flu vaccine works on our blog.

Because of the way flu vaccines are made, their effectiveness varies between flu seasons. They must be made to match the strains of the flu virus that occur each year and usually contain a mix of several different strains. Manufacturing of the flu vaccine starts several months before flu season.

While the nasal vaccine has been effective in past years, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said it has not been effective during the most recent flu seasons. Their findings came after a review of data which found FluMist to be only 3 percent effective last year. In a statement, the CDC says it's not clear why the nasal vaccine hasn't worked well but is working with the manufacturer to better understand the situation.

The traditional injection of flu vaccine was effective last year, according to the CDC. The effectiveness rate was around 63 percent against any strain of the flu virus in children ages 2 to 17.

The CDC and Peconic Bay Medical Center recommend that everyone get vaccinated against flu every year. Even if vaccines aren't 100 percent effective, people who receive them are less likely to become severely ill or die from the flu. The virus kills anywhere between 4,000 and 50,000 each year, with the very young and very old hit the hardest.

"How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season and can be affected by a number of factors, including characteristics of the person being vaccinated, the similarity between vaccine viruses and circulating viruses, and even which vaccine is used," the CDC said in a statement.

Long Island hospitals recommend flu shots be given starting in August and continuing through November.