Nasal spray influenza vaccine not recommended
Last updated 10/27/2016 at Noon
The flu season is upon us, with cases already presenting in local clinics.
So keep yourself safe. Wash hands, cover coughs and stay home if you’re sick, but above all get vaccinated.
Influenza is serious. During the 2015-16 flu season in Snohomish County, there were: four deaths and 104 hospitalizations. Sixteen schools also reported 10 percent absenteeism due to influenza-like illnesses.
And according to the Washington State Influenza Update, two laboratory-confirmed influenza deaths have already been reported for the 2016-17 season in Washington state.
Officials at the Snohomish Health District say getting a current flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others, and is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older.
Because the nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist) was not effective during the most recent flu seasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that FluMist not be used for the 2016-17 season. The CDC recommends only the flu shot.
Families should check with their healthcare providers and get their vaccines when supplies are available, rather than waiting for a preferred brand. However, as disease usually peaks in Washington between January and March, it is never too late to be vaccinated.
Adults 19 and older should check with their healthcare providers or pharmacy for the flu vaccine. Children ages 6 months through 18 years can receive a seasonal flu vaccine at no cost through the Vaccines for Children program, although healthcare providers may charge an administration fee.
If you are 65 years or older, two new vaccine formulations are available, including a much stronger high-dose vaccine and another that includes a component that provides extra protection for those with aging immune systems (who are at higher risk for severe disease and complications).
An annual flu vaccine, including either new formulation licensed for seniors, is covered by Medicare, Part B.
Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director for the Snohomish Health District, reminds us to never become complacent about influenza.
"It can make people very ill and cause us to miss work or school," Goldbaum said. “And although most people will recover, influenza remains a leading cause of death, especially among the very youngest and oldest.”
Visit the Snohomish Health District’s Flu page, found under the Diseases & Risks menu, for more information and resources, including the Flu Vaccine Finder widget: http://www.snohd.org/diseases-risks/flu.
You can also find more flu vaccine recommendations and flu season updates at http://www.doh.wa.gov.