That’s because the medicine, called FluMist, has been largely ineffective in children in recent years and should not be used in the United States during the 2016-17 flu season, the panel of experts said.
“We could find no evidence [the spray] was effective,” Dr. Joseph Bresee, a flu expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press. The decision was announced late Wednesday by the CDC’s Advisory Panel on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
The traditional flu shotis effective, however, and recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older, the panel concluded.
The ACIP panel’s advisories are adopted by federal government, which then issues guidance to the nation’s doctors.
The decision is a reversal of fortune for FluMist, which is made by AstraZeneca and was first licensed in 2003. Early studies that showed it outperformed the traditional flu shot in protecting kids.
In fact, in 2014, the ACIP recommended FluMIst over needle-based flu vaccines for children, the AP noted.
But more recent trials have shown less impressive results. ACIP said it reviewed data from 2013 through 2016 to assess the effectiveness of the nasal spray for children aged 2 to 17. These new studies found that FluMist offered kids virtually no protection against the flu.
In the 2015-16 flu season, the nasal flu vaccine‘s protection rate was only 3 percent, which means that no protective benefit could be measured, the panel explained. It’s effectiveness in the previous two flu seasons was also low.
In comparison, the traditional flu shot was 63 percent effective among children aged 2 to 17 during the 2015-16 flu season, ACIP said.
Why has FluMIst seemingly lost its effectiveness? Speaking with the AP, Breese theorized that when a fourth strain of influenza was added to the vaccine a few years ago, that may have weakened the body’s response to another strain.