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Health chiefs ‘confident’ nasal flu vaccine for children is effective

Public health chiefs have announced they are confident that the nasal flu vaccine used by GPs for the childhood flu vaccination programme is effective, after media reports the vaccine has failed to protect children against flu in the US.

In a statement, Public Health England (PHE) said provisional figures showed that the nasal vaccine spray was effective ‘both at protecting children themselves and their communities’.

The statement added: ‘Reports from the US have suggested a possible lower vaccine effectiveness, unlike the findings in the UK.’

PHE recently confirmed use of the children’s nasal flu vaccine for the 2016 to 2017 flu vaccination programme.

Dr Richard Pebody, head of flu surveillance for PHE said: ‘We estimate that overall, the vaccine was 57.6% effective in preventing influenza infection amongst children in 2015 to 2016.

‘These findings are encouraging and in line with what we also typically see for the adult flu vaccine.’

Dr Pebody added: ‘Based on intelligence to date, there is no reason to change current recommendations regarding use of the children’s nasal spray vaccine in the UK.’

AstraZeneca, which manufactures the nasal flu vaccine - which unlike injectable versions is a live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) - said in a statement: 'AstraZeneca are pleased that independent data from the 2015/16 flu season in the UK and elsewhere has demonstrated effectiveness of LAIV.

'The most recent available data (2014/15) on the childhood influenza vaccination programme has also shown an encouraging impact for the UK population. We will continue to work with public health bodies in the US to better understand their contrasting data.'


Readers' comments (2)

  • CDC Advisers Recommend Against Use of Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine in 2016-2017

    The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has voted against use of the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) during the upcoming flu season, citing low efficacy among children during the past three seasons.

    The quadrivalent LAIV, given by nasal spray, was estimated to be just 3% effective against any flu virus among children aged 2 to 17 years during the 2016–2017 flu season, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network. In contrast, the effectiveness of the inactivated influenza vaccine, given by injection, was estimated at 63% in this age group.

    In a news release, the CDC notes the potential implications for clinicians who've already ordered vaccine for the upcoming season. Pediatric providers in particular may be affected, given that the nasal spray was used in about a third of child flu vaccinations in recent years. The agency says it will work with vaccine makers in the coming months to ensure the supply.

    Dr. Deborah Lehman of NEJM Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine commented, "This recommendation from the CDC's advisers, supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, comes as providers are preparing for influenza season. Influenza remains the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable disease, and routine immunization — this year with the inactivated, injectable vaccine — will prevent illness, hospitalization, and death."

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  • So the USA is dumping LAIV and suggesting injection. PHE is saying the UK use the LAIV. Whom do I believe? Probably not PHE.

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