Since the last two years of flu seasons, the federal Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices was not voting the nasal spray version of the flu vaccines as they didn't find to be working progress against swine flu, which is a type of flu that made most of the people at that time sickened.
A flu shot is recommended for every person older than 6 months in the United States, even though the CDC reported on Thursday that this year's vaccine is only 25 percent effective against H3N2 influenza, the cause of most illness so far this season.
"This is not an easy decision", said Dr. Nancy Bennett, chair of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), whose decision guide which vaccines are available on the USA market.
"This is not an easy decision".
The panel makes its recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which usually accepts the advice and sends it along as guidance to doctors, hospitals and health insurers.
The company that produces nasal spray FluMist, AstraZeneca informed that problematic issue of the vaccine has now been recognized and corrected. It was first licensed in 2003 and is approved for healthy people ages 2 to 49.
FluMist is a little different from other vaccines because not only is it spritzed up the nose, but it uses "live" flu virus.
Two panel members said they were anxious about hurting children and further undermining the public's perception of the safety of flu vaccines if FluMist comes back on the market and does not work well.
Gregory Keenan, vice president of U.S. medical affairs at AstraZeneca, said today in a press release from the company, "This study validates the improvements we've made to our strain selection process and confirms an improved H1N1 LAIV strain was included in the 2017-2018 formulation". But the part that anxious him most was the chance that the vaccine wouldn't perform well in an H1N1-dominated season and that such a failure might undercut flu vaccination coverage, in general.
But others said they were equally anxious that kids are not being vaccinated against flu because the needle-free option is not available, and they noted that FluMist is clearly better than not getting vaccinated at all. "Advil or Tylenol, to reduce the fever, and you need to make sure you're drinking lots of fluids...again, good hand-washing and just, you know, staying away from other people to prevent the spread of it".
Some experts at the meeting anxious the panel's decision could further damage public confidence in flu vaccines.
Last week, a government study found the flu shot was doing a poor job this winter. Other research groups have also been trying to tease out the problem with the vaccine, with some suggesting the problem might stem from changes in patient immunity.