FluMist returns: CDC greenlights nasal spray vaccine for next flu season

A CDC advisory committee voted Wednesday to once again recommend FluMist, the only nasal flu vaccine approved in the U.S., for the 2018-19 flu season — effectively ending a two-year suspension of the non-injected vaccine, according to STAT.

For the past two flu seasons, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended against using FluMist, citing a lack of evidence regarding the vaccine's efficacy. A 2015-16 influenza vaccine effectiveness study conducted by the ACIP found FluMist 46 percent effective, with zero effectiveness against the H1N1 strain. This was in comparison to the flu shot, which was 65 percent effective across all strains, according to CNN.

However, the panel voted 12-2 to include FluMist as an option for next winter's flu season after hearing "data from the vaccine manufacturer about a possible root cause of poor effectiveness against the H1N1 virus in the past and a potential solution to address this," CDC spokesperson Ian Branam told CNN.

While the vote clears the way for FluMist to re-enter the U.S. market as a more widely used option, it may be too late for the vaccine to play a major role in next winter's flu season.

Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told STAT that many physician offices have already ordered vaccine stocks for next flu season.

Regardless, the decision comes as a relief to the vaccine's maker, MedImmune, a division of AstraZeneca, who took an at least $80 million hit from the CDC's decision to not recommend the vaccine in past seasons.  

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