CDC approves nasal spray influenza vaccine for upcoming flu season

Over the past two years, the CDC has advised the public to avoid the nasal spray version of the influenza vaccine, but things changed this year. The agency recently published its 2018 – 2019 flu season advisory, an update over the same report issued for the previous influenza season. This time around, the CDC says doctors can choose to administer the nasal spray vaccine when appropriate.

The flu is most common in the United States during its late fall to early spring seasons; for vulnerable patients, it can be a life-threatening illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges the public to get a flu shot to help control spread; each season the agency makes recommendations on which vaccines should be administered.

For both the 2016 – 2017 and the 2017 – 2018 flu seasons, the CDC advised against administering the FluMist Quadrivalent (LAIV4) vaccine, which is in the form of a nasal spray rather than an injection. This year, however, the CDC says that doctors can administer the IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4 (nasal spray) vaccine options.

"LAIV4 is an option for those for whom it is appropriate," the advisory reads. The CDC says it has reviewed data on the effectiveness of the nasal spray administered to children in past seasons. Though the vaccine was found to be poorly effective against influenza A H1N1 viruses, it showed effectiveness for influenza B viruses and had similar effectiveness to the IIV vaccine against A(H3N2).

The 2017 – 2018 flu season was relatively severe in the US; many deaths resulting from it involved individuals who hadn't received the vaccine. The CDC recommends that individuals get the vaccination by the end of October.