CDC panel: FluMist spray vaccine is OK next season

This chart from the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued on Feb. 20 2018 shows the path of flu cases during the 2017-18 flu season compared with those of other recent years

This chart from the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued on Feb. 20 2018 shows the path of flu cases during the 2017-18 flu season compared with those of other recent years

ACIP voted 12-2 to add FluMist back to the mix of flu vaccines that doctors and clinics can use. FluMist never lost its approval from the Food and Drug Administration, but vaccine providers usually don't even make a product available unless it has an ACIP endorsement.

The study provides the longest-term look at the vaccines' effect on newborn health, with the babies followed out to 6 months of life, said study author Dr. Lakshmi Sukumaran, a pediatric infectious disease researcher with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two years ago, the advisory group pulled its recommendation for FluMist vaccine after research found it wasn't working against swine flu, the kind of flu that was making most people sick then.

Today's action marks the latest turnaround for a vaccine, first licensed in 2003, that has offered a needle-free option-a plus for children and a formulation that has been useful in school-based flu immunization campaigns.

Studies have suggested that while FluMist fell down against swine flu, it has been effective against other types of flu.

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During the committee discussion in the lead-up to the votes, some members said they anxious if the new data on shedding were strong enough evidence of protection, compared with traditional vaccine effectiveness studies.

The CDC reports the flu is to blame for the death of 84 children during this brutal season. It's been off the US market since then, although it is still used in other countries, including Canada and the European Union.

Lab-confirmed cases of influenza declined last week, however, from 973 cases to 721 - following two weeks on increases in cases.

The latest recommendation follows results from a USA study in young children that showed vaccines containing a 2017-2018 strain of H1N1 flu virus performed better than the 2015-2016 strain that had shown decreased effectiveness, AstraZeneca said.

The most common strain of influenza this season is H3N2, which has a more severe impact on the elderly and very young, according to officials.

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"We didn't expect to find any increased risk in these infants", Sukumaran said.

Lentz said 180 people were vaccinated during this event.

Other ACIP members aired concerns that flu vaccine effectiveness often crops up as a serious issue with flu vaccines, in general, and they wondered if the committee was holding FluMist to a different standard.

AstraZeneca says it will supply FluMist to the US market next season.

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