If you are like many parents, the nasal spray flu vaccine sounds like an easy way to protect your child against the flu. You don't have to worry about your child's fear of needles or the tears or tantrums leading up to the shot.
However in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the nasal mist was not as effective as the injectable vaccine, and physicians stopped offering it as an option. Now after two years, the CDC is bringing back the nasal spray vaccine for the 2018- 2019 flu season.
Learn what pediatricians recommend as the most effective way to protect your child against the flu.
Flu vaccine nasal spray vs injection
In its updated guidelines for the 2018-2019 flu season, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the injectable vaccine is the best option, nixing the needle-free offering.
"I still very much recommend the injectable vaccination for influenza," says Preeti Sharma, M.D., pulmonologist at Children's Health℠ and Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern. "We know it's more effective and can better prevent the flu or the severity of the flu."
While the flu shot should be parents' first choice for their child, the nasal spray vaccine could be an option if a child would not get a vaccination otherwise. Children must be 2 years of age or older to receive the nasal spray vaccine. The nasal spray is also not recommended for anyone with chronic lung problems like asthma, or anyone with a compromised immune system.
Nasal mist or no nasal mist, flu season is still coming. Protecting your child from the influenza virus is a very important part of making sure your family stays healthy.
"Every person 6 months of age or older should be immunized against the flu virus," says Dr. Sharma. "The flu can be very dangerous, particularly for children who are considered a high risk population for influenza."
A few flu facts
- Between 5% and 20% of people in the U.S. come down with the flu each year.
- Pneumonia is one of the most serious complications of an influenza infection.
- 179 children died of influenza in the U.S. last year, and of those, 80% were not vaccinated.
- The best protection against the seasonal flu is the flu vaccine, and it's encouraged for all people over 6 months of age.
Where should my child get their flu shot?
Although getting a flu shot has become more convenient and is available at more places than ever before, if you can, the best place to turn for a vaccination should be your child's primary health care provider. He or she best understands your child's medical history and specific needs, and can offer flu vaccination as part of their ongoing comprehensive care plan.
How to protect your child from getting the flu
Of course, vaccination is just the first step in the battle against the flu. It's important to keep in mind other ways that you can help keep your family flu-free:
- Practice good hand hygiene
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Disinfect surfaces
See more ways to prevent your family from getting the flu.
Getting the flu shot every year is essential to keeping your family healthy. Learn more about how the flu shot works and its effectiveness.
Stay current on the health insights that make a difference to your children. Sign up for the Children's Health newsletter and have more tips sent directly to your inbox.