It’s just about that time of year again. Children with sniffles, stuffy noses, and watery eyes will plague your office as flu season makes its arrival. This year however, you’ll have one less option to combat the virus, FluMist. What was once seen as a less intimidating vaccine option for children, experts have now said that FluMist has become subpar.
The FluMist Mystery
The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its annual flu season guidelines earlier this month, withdrawing its recommendation of the child-friendly FluMist for this year. This announcement came shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deemed FluMist subpar. FluMist is a live attenuated vaccine, which means it contains a weakened version of the virus that does not make the recipient ill. Instead, it sparks the body’s immune system to create antibodies to fight off the illness. Unfortunately, within the last few years, doctors are noticing that the spray has become less and less effective, prompting the CDC to remove their recommendation for the spray, leaving injections as the only option.
Injections vs FluMist
One of the biggest reasons that FluMist was so popular is the fact that it was a less intimidating alternative than the traditional injection. Almost nobody likes to get a shot, especially children, so the nasal spray allows physicians to provide a vaccine that’s both painless and effective, or so they thought. With a hot debate already burning about vaccinating children, there’s no denying that influenza is no joke. According to the CDC, the flu kills 3,300 to 49,000 people each year, with children and the elderly particularly vulnerable. The majority of doctors recommend that all children older than six months should be vaccinated before the end of October.
Preventing the Spread of Flu
There are a variety of different tips to give your patients to decrease their chance of contracting the flu. Obviously, one of the biggest precautions they can take is to wash their hands. According to one study, 80% of communicable diseases are transferred through touch, so it’s important to remind your patients to wash their hands as frequently as they can. It’s also a good idea to encourage your patients to stay home if they are sick, and if they have employees, tell them to encourage those they oversee to stay home if they’re sick as well. Although we live in a high-speed world, if you’re sick, coming into work could just spread the virus to others.
Although there are no other ways to implement the flu vaccine on the horizon, the CDC is constantly working on new ways to distribute the vaccine efficiently and effectively. For now, the flu shot will be the only recommended course of action for getting the vaccine, and although injections can be intimidating, it’s important to stress to your patients the importance of vaccinations.