Healthline: Flu shots available, FluMist axed

Healthline: Flu shots available, FluMist axed
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As south Louisiana cleans up from a disaster, the last thing you want is the flu. This year's vaccine is now available, but the popular nasal mist is not recommended this season.

A review by the Centers for Disease Control found FluMist lost its effectiveness over the last few years. It's estimated to have reduced flu cases by about 3 percent in the 2015-16 season, compared to the injected vaccine, which reduced cases by 63 percent.

The flu shot is recommended for everyone six months and older.

"Now is the perfect time to consider getting a flu shot," said Dr. Amy Kisner at Lake After Hours. "It takes a couple of weeks to build immunity. Flu season generally begins around October, peaks around December through March, and it can go up as far as May."

Kisner added that influenza usually hits the South earlier than the rest of the country. Children and the elderly are especially at risk, as well caretakers and pregnant women.

A high-dose version of the shot is available for those 65 and older. FluMist was a popular option for kids afraid of needles, and doctors hope the new CDC recommendations won't deter parents.

"The most important thing is to protect your kid from serious illness. You're protecting them from potential hospitalization, missing days from school, you're missing days from work," Kisner said.

FluMist manufacturer AstraZeneca is working on an reformulated version for next year. In the meantime, other companies are ramping up production of the injected version. That quick stick could save time, money, and more pain for those who are already overstressed and overworked.

"You can end up with a pneumonia, you feel very tired, fatigued, you have high fever," Kisner explained. "When you have the flu, you're basically non-functional, and that's for several days."

Last year's injected vaccine proved effective against the most prevalent strains of flu. Kisner said the vast majority of flu cases were in people who had not been vaccinated.

She also often reminds people that the flu shot absolutely cannot cause the flu. If anything, you could get a low-grade fever and a sore arm the next day.

Lake After Hours is one of many clinics offering the quadrivalent flu shot that most will get and the high-dose flu shot for those 65 and older. An appointment is not necessary. CLICK HERE for a list of locations.

CLICK HERE for more the latest information about the flu from the CDC.

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