CDC: FluMist vaccine ineffective, Austin doctors work to fill gap

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Children and needles don’t mix well and that’s why the “nasal spray” flu vaccine has become popular for families.

But now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those nasal spray vaccines haven’t been working – and are taking them off the shelves this flu season.

“We really didn’t know this was coming honestly, and all of us have already put our orders in for the flu season,” said Dr. Allison Ziari, a pediatrician with the Austin Regional Clinic (ARC). “So we have to change what kind of vaccine we’re providing for patients this fall.”

Dr. Ziari says ARC ordered over 10,000 doses of the nasal spray vaccine, FluMist, nearly 20 percent of their total vaccine supply.

“It’s frustrating because I want to provide the best information to my parents, so that they can make the best decision for their children. And when the information we’re getting from CDC is changing, it is difficult,” said Dr. Ziari.

The report is concerning for parents who have used or planned to use the nasal spray flu vaccine for their children.

“As a parent it’s pretty concerning to think that you thought your child was somewhat protected from the flu – I know it’s not 100 percent protection – but then it turns out it didn’t work out properly,” said Ryan Akers. “Pretty scary as a parent.”

Akers says he would’ve considered FluMist for his 18-month-old, and is relieved they never did.

While Dr. Ziari understands the flu shot isn’t as popular among children, she still highly recommends they get it.

“Getting the flu virus is really, pretty bad, especially if there are high risk members in the family,” said Dr. Ziari. “People that have asthma, or heart disease, diabetes — other medical problems that put them at risk – it’s really important for them to be vaccinated. Young children are particularly at risk.”

Some doctors are on waiting lists to get more of the flu shot vaccines.

The CDC says they’ll work with manufacturers this summer to make sure the demand is met.

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