Think You Can Avoid the Needle This Flu Season? Think Again.
In this INFLUENZA series we have established how important it is to ensure your team has access to flu vaccinations on your work site. We’ve made a strong case for the superiority of the new 4-strain (quadrivalent) flu vaccines over the 3-strain (trivalent).
But even if you’re prepared to invest in the 4-strain vaccine, what is the best way to receive it?
Wait, let’s back up a step … Did you know there are multiple ways to receive a flu vaccine? Yup. Here’s what you need to know.
Where it goes: into the muscle
Instrument used: syringe
Vaccine type: inactivated (dead) viruses, 3 or 4 strains
Age range: 6 months or older
Pros: highly effective, lowest incidence of side effects, virtually universal
Con: it’s a needle … but you can do it!
Where it goes: into the skin
Instrument used: syringe with very fine needle (90% smaller than intramuscular needles)
Vaccine type: inactivated (dead) viruses, 4 strains
Age range: 18 to 64
Pros: just as effective as Intramuscular, smaller needle
Con: discomfort (redness, swelling, toughness, pain, itching) at injection site is more common
Where it goes: into the nose
Instrument used: nasal sprayer
Vaccine type: live attenuated (weakened) viruses, 4 strains
Age range: 2 to 49
Pro: needle-less inhalation
Con: limitations on who can take it, far less effective if at all (yeah, see below)
Wait, What Was That Bit About the Nasal Spray Not Being Effective?
On June 22, 2016 an advisory committee affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised against the use of live attenuated flu vaccine (the nasal spray) next season because it didn’t appear to work much, if at all, over the last three seasons.
Based on a study of children 2 to 17 that concluded “no protective benefit could be measured”, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) advised the CDC to pull the plug on the nasal spray. At the time of this writing, approval of this recommendation by CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden is pending.
It would take a lot of convincing by the maker of FluMist, AstraZeneca, that its research and those done in other countries (which they claim demonstrated it was 48-58% effective in the 2015-2016 flu season) is sufficient justification for Frieden to reconsider the ACIP’s recommendation.
Bottom line, there’s a good chance FluMist is going away.
Sticking to Shots Moving Forward
Until we get news that there is a new formulation of inhalable (or – who knows? – some kind of ingestible vaccine you can swallow) that the FDA approves and the CDC recommends, we’ll be offering shots exclusively this season.
So, it’s back to the good ol’ needle. Cover-tek offers full, intramuscular shots that have a high rate of effectiveness and lower incidence of discomfort than intradermal.
(Don’t worry, we’ve been doing this a long time. We’ll be gentle!)
Flu prevention is an important part of comprehensive corporate wellness programming. In case you’re wondering, we’ve got you covered there.