Fort Worth, Texas,
09:40 AM

4 facts parents need to know about the flu vaccine

Doc Smitty on nasal spray version of vaccination

I was surprised by yesterday’s announcement that the nasal spray version of the annual flu vaccine didn’t protect kids last year.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the Centers for Disease Control’s ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) stated, “Health care providers should not use live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) in the upcoming 2016-2017 season due to poor effectiveness.”

The first thought that went through my head was this: my kids have to get the injectable flu vaccine next year AND I have to convince them that it’s a good thing. (I may be a pediatrician, but I’m still a dad.)

The committee looked at data from the last three flu seasons showing that the nasal vaccine had limited to no effectiveness for preventing flu.

Here are 4 facts you need to know:

  1. Even in bad years, the flu vaccine continues to provide the best layer of protection against this deadly disease. Last year’s injectable flu vaccine was 50 percent effective in preventing disease which means thousands of people were protected.
  2. Assuming there’s no new information or guidance, your pediatrician should not offer your child the nasal flu vaccine. Even if we hear something new, I would choose to do the injectable vaccine and I will do so for my kids.
  3. The committee is hopeful that this early decision will help prevent any issue with the vaccine supply. However, there are flu vaccine supply issues nearly every year so I recommend getting in to get your shot early.
  4. There’s a committee out there who is looking at this data and making the best recommendations possible based on the latest information. Is it frustrating that we were giving a vaccine that didn’t work? Of course. Am I glad that I won’t do it for another year? Definitely.

Stay tuned for more information about flu and flu vaccines as we get closer to September when flu vaccine supplies start arriving at your Cook Children’s pediatrician’s offices.




About the author

Justin Smith is a pediatrician and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's His interest in communications started when he realized that his parents were relying more on the internet for medical information. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” is set to open in Trophy Club in the fall of 2016.

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