For the past two flu seasons, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended against using FluMist, citing a lack of evidence regarding the vaccine's efficacy. As the problem persisted last June, experts once again recommended against the vaccine.
"In the past, the vaccine didn't perform as it had promised to avoid influenza". That reverses an ACIP decision to stop endorsing the inhaled version of the vaccine after the 2015-2016 flu season. By contrast, the flu shot is an inactivated influenza vaccine. It has also remained available and recommended in both Canada and the European Union.
"For the 2018-19 season, immunization providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate, influenza vaccine (including LAIV, IIV and RIV)".
There is real worry among flu experts that the poor effectiveness of flu vaccines, especially this past season, may make Americans less willing to get it.
Flumist Quadrivalent remains available in limited quantities for the current season and, pending strain approval by the Food and Drug Administration, it will be available for the 2018-2019 influenza season.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control said 84 children have died from flu complications since October. But committee panel members noted there's still not good proof that FluMist works well against the swine flu bug.
According to a recent CDC interim report, this year's flu shot is just 36% effective.
Beginning with the 2016-17 season, then, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices chose to not recommend the spray because of its poor performance compared with the flu shot, and that decision was repeated for this season.
AstraZeneca said in a statement that researchers tested the new version of FluMist on 200 US kids aged 2 to 4, and found it was 23 percent effective in preventing the flu.
"We are reporting 20 additional flu related deaths, including another child, which continues to highlight the gravity and intensity of this flu season". But there's still a chance that next year those wishing to get vaccinated without a needle will have a better luck finding FluMist at other vaccine distribution points, like pharmacies, than they have in the past couple of years.