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Pediatricians Don't Want Your Kids Using FluMist This Year

Photograph by Twenty20

The flu season will be upon us sooner than we think, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are prepping parents and caregivers for the worst. But parents of small children won’t have a choice between getting a flu shot or using the less painful, child-friendly FluMist.

The reason? Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are labeling the latest batch of the FluMist vaccine "subpar," according to CNN. Now parents only have one go-to method of prevention: the flu shot.

New York pediatrician Dr. Lisa Thebner tells CNN she’s had this conversation about FluMist’s issues with a number of parents already, and although some expressed disappointment, they still got the old standby flu shot.

It’s recommended that all children from the age 6 months on get the flu shot by October. The AAP also recommends that all pregnant and breastfeeding women get the shot, in addition to women who hope to become pregnant, and who have just given birth or are breastfeeding.

But why the switch-up from the spray back to the shot? The CDC says the spray has been ineffective over the past few flu seasons. The agency compared it with the flu shot efficacy in studies and used that data to come to a conclusion.

Each February, the CDC decides which flu strains will go into the vaccine for the next season. It looks at which strains made people the sickest, and where those viruses were the most prevalent. It also considers which vaccine protects against the virus the best.

The spray was initially approved in 2003 by the CDC, and early on, it showed it was more effective than the shot for children under 8 years old. With the CDC’s blessing, the spray grew in popularity with pediatricians and parents—and it has accounted for roughly a third of the vaccines in recent years, according to the agency.

The FluMist is a live but weakened vaccine, while the flu shot is an inactive influenza one. The live viruses in the spray help stimulate the immune system.

The CDC says it hopes the popular spray will make an appearance next year, but that it depends on what the data shows after this season is over.

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