At its June 22, 2016, meeting the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted against using the live attenuated influenza vaccine — also known as the nasal spray influenza vaccine — during the 2016-2017 flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel renewed its recommendation for annual influenza vaccination for everyone six months and older.
The nasal spray vaccine was not removed because of safety concerns, but instead due to ineffectiveness. Once thought to be better than influenza vaccine injections, the nasal spray vaccine proved to be less effective during more recent influenza seasons. In fact, last year the nasal spray vaccine was only estimated to protect about 3 of every 100 people ages 2-17 who received it compared to 63 of 100 in the same age group who received the vaccine given as a shot. These findings were similar to other studies conducted during recent years. Researchers have yet to determine the reasons for the poor performance of the live nasal spray vaccine. However, because this vaccine is still being used in some other countries, scientists will work to determine what happened.
It is estimated that the live nasal spray vaccine was used in about one-third of all vaccinated children during recent seasons. Because the nasal spray version represented about 8 percent of this year’s anticipated supply, vaccine manufacturers who produce other types of influenza vaccines will need to try to produce additional doses.
Dr. Offit, VEC director, discusses ACIP’s decision