Health Officials: Get Flu Vaccinated, Just Don’t Use the Spray
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Those who usually opt to fight influenza with a nasal spray instead of a flu shot will have to roll up their sleeves this year.
Most practicing physicians and health clinics will not be offering sprays, per recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says the vaccine administered through nasal spray since 2013 has not proven as effective as flu shots.
“A number of things could have decreased their effectiveness,” said Logan Hudson, nurse manager for South Central Public Health District. “There are all sorts of things that go into making a vaccine. If any of them are hindered, they will not be as effective.”
In May, data from the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network revealed that the effectiveness of nasal spray vaccinations among children 2 to 17 years was rated at only 3 percent. In comparison, flu shots had a vaccine effectiveness of 63 percent against any flu virus among the same age group.
Hudson: We recommend people get vaccinated as early as they can to prepare for the season.
This shouldn’t discourage people from being vaccinated, Hudson said. It is recommended that everyone 6 months and older receive a flu shot as early as possible – “starting now,” he said.
The flu season in south-central Idaho typically peaks in January and February, but cases often start popping up earlier. The season generally lasts through about March, he said, but it’s not unheard of to get the flu even in May.
Last year was a mild year in terms of flu cases, Hudson said, but it’s difficult to predict this early what the 2016-17 flu season will look like. The best option is to roll up your sleeves and get a flu shot.
There may be some kickback from those who like to avoid needles, especially children. About a third of the population typically chooses nasal spray, Hudson said. But getting a flu shot is better than the alternative.
“We recommend people get vaccinated as early as they can to prepare for the season,” he said, noting a special vaccine is made for those 65 years and older. “They need a little boost.”
Vaccination does not guarantee a person won’t become infected with influenza, but it does lessen the chances. If you do get sick, it is recommended that you stay home from school or work to prevent passing the virus, wash your hands frequently, and always cover your cough.
Because children and seniors are more susceptible to catching the flu, and often have a more difficult time with it once caught, Hudson said it is especially important that these age groups become vaccinated early and to see a doctor if they do become ill.
“Typically, you should get vaccinated as soon as they’re available,” he said. “A flu shot generally lasts through the entire flu season.”