Two years ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended FluMist, a nasal spray form of the flu vaccine, as the preferred means of inoculation for young children against the virus. Now they say it is so ineffective that it shouldn’t be used in this year’s upcoming flu season. Why did they reverse their decision?
The CDC gave FluMist their stamp of approval based on a 2004 study that indicated it was 55 percent more effective than the flu shot in children. Because the vaccine didn’t involve a needle, it was an instant hit with consumers. However, three months after the CDC issued the recommendation, they received some disappointing news. Data taken in the 2013-2014 flu season showed the nasal spray was totally ineffective in protecting kids aged 2 through 8 against the H1N1 virus, which was the main viral strain circulating that year.
The oversight agency later learned FluMist performed poorly in the 2014-2015 season as well. Looking ahead to this year’s season, the CDC says evidence shows the spray vaccine’s efficacy rate in children aged 2 through 17 was 3 percent, which equates to no benefit.
Why Didn’t FluMist Work?
Flu is hard to vaccinate against because the virus that causes it is very prone to mutation. In other words, a vaccine formulated to protect against strain X will have no effect on a virus mutated to strain Y. This specificity presents a problem, as sometimes the circulating flu strains mutate faster than drug companies can make new vaccines. Furthermore, a strain predominant in Europe or Asia won’t necessarily be the strain predominant in America.
Vaccine manufacturers have to determine the expected circulating viral strains months ahead of the flu season. The process is always a guessing game, and sometimes scientists guess wrong. This is what happened in the 2014-2015 flu season, when two-thirds of the H3N2 strains of the virus in the U.S. were different from the H3N2 strains in both the nasal spray and injectable vaccine.
The effectiveness of flu vaccines will vary from year to year. While the main factor determining the protective effect is how well the circulating strains match the strains in the vaccines, other variables will also play a role, such as the age and health of the recipient.
In the case of FluMist, other factors aside from the above could have contributed to its poor performance. Several years ago, the formulation changed from a composite of three viral strains to four. Could this change have reduced its efficacy? Researchers will be investigating this and other issues that could have played a role. At this point, they don’t know why the nasal vaccine failed so miserably.
CDC Advisory to Parents
According to the CDC, research indicates vaccines can decrease the risk of the flu by 50 to 60 percent when the viral strains are well matched. Therefore, despite the loss of FluMist, the agency strongly advocates the inoculation of children six months and older. They base this advisory on the fact that the flu causes thousands of deaths each year.
FluMist Failure Will Add Fuel to Vaccine Debate
The failure of FluMist will undoubtedly add to the ongoing debate on the efficacy of vaccines. In addition to the question on how well they work, many also have questions about their safety. While most natural health practitioners have at least some concerns, some allopathic doctors are also unconvinced that vaccines don’t present health risks.
In an interview with Live in the Now, Dr. Michael Wald, Director of Nutrition at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco in Westchester, New York expressed such opinions. “I suspect that flu vaccines may pose mild or even serious health risks, but this assertion is difficult to prove. Similar to genetically modified foods that may cause health problems over the course of years or even decades, flu vaccinations may act the same way. The passive immunity effect of flu vaccinations is unnatural and therefore the body may react to it with immunological, neurologic and other health consequences that have gone unnoticed because these possible effects may occur over the course of years.”
Although Dr. Wald’s views on flu vaccines may not be widely shared within the allopathic community, he is by no means alone in his reservations. After researching and investigating the science dealing with the topic, other doctors have raised their voices in opposition to flu vaccines. The mainstream media gives the impression that all scientists are united in their belief that there inoculations are safe and effective. This is not the case.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.