Local pediatrician talks effectiveness of nasal spray flu vaccine for kids

Photo By: Chelsea Edwards

WACO, Texas (KWTX) A weapon in the fight against the flu is being reinvented and reintroduced to the public.

It's not expected to completely rid the world of the deadly flu virus, but it is another option for getting the flu vaccine- something that might come in handy for parents who don't want to deal with the aftermath of their kids getting poked by a needle.

"We have seen that a lot of parents aren't willing to try the needle because they think it might be a lot of pain and it's not really worth it," says Dr. Hector Barezuetta of Providence Pediatric Clinic.

Now, after two years of not meeting CDC recommendation standards, the vaccine Flumist, is making a comeback.

"It's easy to use because you spray right into the nose with no pain at all," says Dr. Barezuetta.

Wednesday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted with an overwhelming majority to put the nasal spray back on the CDC's list of recommended vaccines.

It was pulled off the list in 2016 because of its lack of effectiveness against new flu strains.

"There is a new component in the vaccine that should be able to improve immunity in our kids," says Dr. Barezuetta.

The company that makes the drug has reworked the vaccine and is reporting positive results from a study with young children.

The spray can be more convenient, but it does come with side effects.

"You might have some kind of mild flu symptoms because it is a live, weak strain of the flu," says Dr. Barezuetta.

"You might have a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, but it shouldn't be that bad."

Instead of the live virus in the nasal spray, the flu shot contains a dead virus.

When it comes to effectiveness, Dr. Barezuetta says it's too soon to say whether one is better than the other.

"It all depends on what kind of strains go through the new season," the pediatrician says the flu virus changes constantly.

"That's why it's so hard for us to find the right vaccine to protect everybody."

The Food and Drug Administration still has to pass approval on the nasal spray for the 2018-2019 flu season.

The effectiveness of the new version of FluMist remains to be seen, but Dr. Barezuetta wants to remind everyone that choosing either the mist or the shot is better than going without flu prevention.

"The best way to prevent this is to have either the nasal flu vaccine or flu shot because that's the best way to cut out the spread of the disease."