No More Flu Mist?

no more flu mist? Center for Family Medicine

With the 2016 flu season fast approaching, many families are ready to head in to their pediatricians’ offices to pick up a flu vaccine for their kids. There’s just one problem that’s going to cause some issues for many parents: this year, the health community will not be offering Flu Mist as an option to receive the flu vaccine. Instead, kids, seniors, and parents have only the traditional option for vaccinating themselves against the flu: a flu shot. 

Why Remove Flu Mist?

Flu mist has been the ideal option for many parents. Fighting with a child over getting a shot and listening to them cry when it’s over can be just as traumatic for the parents as the shot is for the child! Many pediatric patients–around 30%–opted for the mist instead of the shot when the time came to be vaccinated for the flu each year, while 15% of adult patients made the same choice. According to the CDC, however, Flu Mist simply isn’t as effective as preventing the flu in children. While the flu vaccine has about a 60% success rate in shot form, the mist used for the last three years hasn’t seen the same success rate in any of the patients who used it. As a result, the CDC has withdrawn its support from the flu mist, choosing to support traditional shot vaccination instead.

Insurance Companies and Pediatricians Weigh In

With the changing recommendations from the CDC, insurance companies and pediatricians are weighing in along with them. Many insurance companies that cover flu shots in some of their patients are choosing not to cover the mist at all, while pediatricians are choosing not to offer the mist to their patients. For most patients, the flu mist simply won’t be available at all for the 2016-17 flu season. 

Flu Vaccination is Still Critical

While many people will recover quickly from a mild case of the flu, others will experience severe complications and even death. Children and the elderly are at particular risk–and that means that in spite of the shot, it’s important that as many children as possible be vaccinated before October, when flu season kicks off with a vengeance. Flu shots are particularly critical for kids and adults with compromised immune systems or ongoing respiratory problems like asthma. Child care workers, those who work with the elderly, and parents should also receive vaccines in order to protect their loved ones. Health care workers, who stand a higher chance of being exposed to individuals with flu symptoms, should also be vaccinated.

Parents Stand Behind Flu Vaccines, Mist or No

While many parents might experience a fleeting moment of regret for the ineffectiveness of the Flu Mist, the vast majority are choosing to stand behind the flu shot and get their child vaccinated anyway. Kids, who are more lax about hand washing and may find themselves in closer quarters with particularly ill peers, need to be vaccinated against the flu, and the greater majority of parents are choosing this option for their children. While not every child will receive a flu vaccine through their pediatricians, many parents opt to take their children to pharmacies, health departments, and other local areas where flu vaccines are offered.

The flu mist might not be available for the coming flu season, but it’s still critical that children receive this vital vaccine. Protecting these innocent members of the population is one of the best ways to ensure that they stay healthy through the coming months. While kids who get the flu vaccine can still get the flu, they often have milder cases that allow them to return to school or daycare sooner than those who don’t receive the vaccine.