Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Shouldn't Be Used Next Flu Season, CDC Committee Says

The nasal spray flu vaccine sold as FluMist Quadravalent shouldn't be used in any setting during the 2016-2017 flu season, according to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The nasal spray flu vaccine sold as FluMist Quadravalent shouldn’t be used in any setting during the 2016-2017 flu season, according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

This recommendation is based on CDC vaccine effectiveness data from 2013 through 2016 that indicated FluMist Quadrivalent didn’t demonstrate statistically significant effectiveness in children 2 to 17 years old, vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca confirmed in a press release.

Preliminary data on that age group during the most recent 2015-2016 flu season estimated nasal spray flu vaccine effectiveness against any flu virus at 3%, meaning that no protective benefit could be measured. In comparison, flu shots showed a vaccine effectiveness estimate of 63% against any flu virus in the same age group. Other non-CDC study findings support the conclusion that the nasal spray flu vaccine was less effective than flu shots this influenza season.

These effectiveness data contrast with studies by AstraZeneca, as well as preliminary independent findings by public health authorities in other countries, which demonstrated tht FluMist Quadrivalent was 46% to 58% effective overall against the circulating influenza strains during the 2015-2016 season, the manufacturer stated.

However, CDC data from the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 flu seasons also showed poor or lower than expected vaccine effectiveness for the nasal spray flu vaccine. AstraZeneca is now working with the CDC to better understand its data to help ensure that eligible patients continue to receive the vaccine in future flu seasons.

According to the ACIP, the makers of FluMist Quadrivalent had projected a supply of as many as 14 million doses during the 2016-2017 season, or about 8% of the total projected flu vaccine supply. The ACIP’s updated recommendation is expected to result in very limited US demand for the nasal spray flu vaccine in the second half of 2016, and consequently, AstraZeneca will take an inventory write-down of approximately $80 million in the second quarter of 2016, the company stated.

The ACIP continues to recommend annual flu vaccination with either the inactivated influenza vaccine or recombinant influenza vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. The CDC will be working with vaccine manufacturers throughout the summer to ensure there’s enough supply to meet the demand during the 2016-2017 flu season.

FluMist Quadrivalent was initially licensed in 2003 as a trivalent vaccine as is approved for use in patients 2 to 49 years old. It’s currently the only nasal spray flu vaccine available on the market.

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