Olubunmi Amakor of Hershey makes it a point to get her two young children vaccinated every flu season.
“I’ve been told by their pediatrician that it’s the best way to prevent severe flu,” she said.
Last year, her daughter avoided the needle and instead opted for the nasal flu mist. It was quicker and less painful.
This year, she will not have that choice because researchers found it was also less effective.
“They calculate what’s called ‘vaccine effectiveness’ and they found that the flu mist was only about three percent effective, which is essentially no protection,” said Dr. Jessica Ericson of Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “That’s compared to the shot, which is about 65 percent effectiveness.”
Dr. Ericson said the mist was once considered more effective than the shot for young children, making this latest recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control all the more mysterious. Because of the findings, Dr. Ericson said the mist won’t be available at all in her office.
“Since it’s really not better than no vaccine, it’s really a waste of time and money to get that at this point,” she said. “So we’re only offering the actual injection.”
Dr. Ericson said it’s unclear why the mist seemingly stopped working. Until researchers can figure it out, she advises parents to stick to the shot.
That’s advice Olubunmi intends to follow.
“I know every year it varies … you don’t have a guarantee of how effective it’s going to be,” she said, “but I, personally, as a parent, if I’m going to put my kids through that, I want it to work.”
This is the time of year that flu shots are being shipped to doctors around the country. Parents are advised to call their child’s pediatrician to find out if and when they will have it in stock and make an appointment to get their child vaccinated.