Flu shot or FluMist? Parents have a choice this year
Flu season is here. The first cases have been reported and it's time for the family – everyone 6 months and older – to get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control report that the flu death toll in the U.S. last year – about 80,000 deaths – was the highest in four decades. The 2017-2018 flu season was especially bad for children – 180 deaths, more than any year since the CDC started tracking pediatric flu deaths.
"Even if the flu vaccine only works half the time, it still means that you can protect half the kids in your family or your classroom,” said Dr. Fred Rivara, a professor of pediatrics at UW Medicine.
Parent have a choice this year about how their kids will get vaccinated – a needle or the nasal spray FluMist.
Two years ago, the CDC pulled its recommendation for FluMist because it wasn't performing as well as expected. Now, it's back on the list.
While the CDC doesn't favor either option – needle or nasal spray – the American Academy of Pediatrics is telling parents to stick with the flu shot, and only use FluMist as a last resort for a child who is especially fearful of needles.
"Based upon the past couple of years, the FluMist wasn't really very effective and we still don't know whether or not it's going to be as effective as the shot in the past,” Dr. Rivara said. “In general, that's why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends on the whole, you're better off getting the shot."