Confusion about whether nasal flu vaccine works for children

Health

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DENVER -- We're seeing minimal flu cases in Colorado right now. But there is plenty of confusion over the use of nasal vaccines in children.

Three studies say AstraZeneca’s FluMist had little to no effect in kids against the swine flu or H1N1 last winter--and it may not work again this year.

But so far, the Centers for Disease Control has not changed its recommendation for using the vaccines.

Right now, CDC recommends the spray for kids 2 to 8 years old.

The Hamman family twins were all smiles on the playground at Wash Park in Denver. They were equally happy when they got vaccinated against the flu without the use of needles.

"They had just had their 4-year checkup, where they each had gotten two shots. And they are old enough now to know what was happening and they were really upset about that. So when we went back 2-3 weeks later for the flu vaccine, they were really excited they could do the nasal spray," says the kids’ mom, Alyssa Hamman.

It's the first time the family has tried the nasal spray.

And they won't second-guess their pediatrician--despite three studies that find the nasal vaccine didn't work well against H1N1 last year.

"I think they're confused, the CDC, that is, and the experts. I'm not sure why this is the case," says Dr. Rafer Leach, who owns Guardian Urgent Care in Denver.

The CDC and other experts are puzzled why it failed.

And the CDC says the spray vaccine might not work this year either.

"I am going to follow CDC recommendations. But, at the same time, if a parent is paranoid about flu for their kids, then I'm going to say, 'You should get the shot,'" says Dr. Leach.

He says parents can always get the flu shot, which is made with a killed virus, and less sensitive to temperature fluctuations.

The nasal vaccine has a live virus in it and can be ruined if it’s not carefully refrigerated.

He says either way, children should be vaccinated with the spray or a shot.

"I feel very comfortable that it works," says Alyssa.

For the Hammans, protecting their kids isn't child's play.

But with so much to worry about in our lives.

They say this issue won't be one of them.

"I think our pediatrician is very well informed and so I think if there is a problem we'll hear from them," says Alyssa.

Experts say we might be fortunate that H1N1 this season won't be as prevalent as it was last year, when it was the most common virus making people sick.

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