Flu Season Shows First Signs of Slowing


A 6-year-old girl from Hudson County died from the flu February 12 and a 4-year-old girl from central New Jersey was the first when she died in December.

After two years of very minimal use in the U.S., AstraZeneca's FluMist is one step closer to making its return next flu season thanks to a Wednesday recommendation from the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The vaccine will still be subject to annual strain approval by the FDA for next season.

MedImmune, the branch of the London-based AstraZeneca that manufactures FluMist, says that since 2015, it has updated the vaccine to improve efficacy against H1N1.

The advisory committee that decides which vaccines are available agreed. As early as 2007, the ACIP had approved its use for children as young as 2 years old.

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The vaccine remains on the recommended list in Canada and the European Union.

All eyes are now on the reformulated FluMist's effectiveness, as experts have anxious that poor effectiveness will turn people off flu vaccines.

In 2016, the CDC committee found that the nasal spray was only 3 percent effective in preventing flu, essentially offering no protection.

For more on flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to an NBC News report, some ACIP members are anxious that an ineffective FluMist will hurt public perceptions, but others argue that the lack of a needle-free option turns kids off getting vaccinated.

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It wasn't recommended for the 2016-17 flu season because at the time, it wasn't as effective as a regular shot.

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

Currently, the United States is going through a particularly tough flu season, with severe cases at epidemic levels and hospitals clogged with patients battling the illness.

Three out of four children who died from the flu were not vaccinated.

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