Flu season is no fun for anyone, and unfortunately it’s about to get a little tougher for many families this winter. Parents will soon be faced with a dilemma if their kids are expecting to receive the child-friendly FluMist nasal spray vaccine instead of the shot. The Center for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics are uniting to recommend against the use of the nasal spray this flu season. The reason behind the change comes from the CDC’s recent discovery that the nasal spray is much less effective than the traditional flu shot. Last year, research showed that the nasal vaccine's effectiveness among children aged 2-17 was only 3%, compared to the injected vaccine’s effectiveness rate of 63%. The outcome of these findings has resulted in distribution companies no longer offering the nasal spray vaccine to pharmacies, and doctor's offices no longer ordering it.
Our pediatrician had to break the bad news to us last month at my son’s annual wellness check, and needless to say my son was not very happy. As a parent, I understand that the flu vaccine is the best preventative measure available in protecting my family against influenza, but like many parents, I simply dread the resistance, tears, and pain that comes with my children receiving shots. The elimination of the nasal spray option has made many parents’ jobs harder, as well as the jobs of the health care providers in administering the flu shot vaccinations. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to inoculate children against the flu remains as unwavering as in past years: according to the AAP, every person aged 6 months or older should be vaccinated for the 2016-17 flu season.
So what can parents do to help their children survive the flu shot with minimal trauma to everyone involved? Aside from the common parenting tricks of distraction and promises of rewards (such as the tried and true lollipop), there are several topical anesthetic creams available that can help numb the skin and reduce pain. Parents can also ask their pediatricians before their visit about the availability of a Fluori-Methane spray, which cools and numbs the shot area, or opt to bring a traditional ice pack and place it on the child’s skin immediately before they receive the shot. No matter what option a parent chooses, the knowledge that a short time of their child’s discomfort at the doctor’s office can help ward off a lengthy, miserable experience with the flu should help make the tough decision a bit easier for everyone.
For more information on the AAP’s new recommendations against the nasal spray vaccination can be found here .