Category: Immunization News

Is Polio Returning to Venezuela?

Breaking News – further tests have found that the person with suspected polio did not have either wild polio or vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV). Could it still be polio? (see below).

Polio is on the verge of being eradicated.

In 2017, there have only been 118 cases of polio in the whole world, including 22 cases of wild poliovirus in Afghanistan and Pakistan and 96 cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria.

So far this year, there have only been 15 cases of polio in the whole world, including 10 cases of wild poliovirus in Afghanistan and Pakistan and five cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

Is Polio Returning to Venezuela?

Most of us are aware that vaccine-preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.

We see it, or at least read about it, all of the time, as we continue to see outbreaks of measles affecting our communities.

But polio?

Could polio return?

Venezuela has been polio free for nearly 30 years. The last case of a wild poliovirus infection was in March 1989. And yet ,there are now thought to be at least four cases of poliovirus, type 3 in the Delta Amacuro state of north east Venezuela, where they are also seeing cases of diphtheria and measles.

Report of polio in Venezuela

Among the polio cases is a 2-year-old boy who was unvaccinated, an unvaccinated child who lived next to him, and a partially vaccinated child 8-year-old who lived next door.

“It has been reported unofficially that it is polio vaccine virus.”

Venezuelan Society of Public Health Report

But what is the source of the polio vaccine virus?

We supposedly stopped using oral polio vaccines that can shed in January 2016, right?

Actually, we began the switch from trivalent OPV (tOPV) to bivalent OPV (bOPV) in 2016, removing the the type 2 polio virus that is most likely to cause VAPP. Making sure kids get a dose of IPV first also lowers the risk of VAPP. At least it does when kids get vaccinated according to plan.

“Other children from the same community were vaccinated in April 2018 with oral bivalent polio vaccine.”

PAHO on Epidemiological Update Detection of Sabin type 3 vaccine poliovirus in a case of Acute Flaccid Paralysis 

When did the first case appear? Although we are just hearing about it now, his symptoms began in April, right around the time another child received a bivalent oral polio vaccine.

“No additional AFP cases have been identified to date through active search for AFP cases carried out in the community.”

PAHO on Epidemiological Update Detection of Sabin type 3 vaccine poliovirus in a case of Acute Flaccid Paralysis 

Fortunately, in the past month, no further cases have been identified.

Children in Venezuela are supposed to get at least one dose of IPV (inactivated polio vaccine), followed by four doses of bOPV (bivalent oral polio vaccine).
Children in Venezuela are supposed to get at least one dose of IPV (inactivated polio vaccine), followed by four doses of bOPV (bivalent oral polio vaccine).

So what does this all mean?

For one thing, wild polio isn’t returning to Venezuela. And it doesn’t look like we will see a large outbreak of cVDPV, as there are no further cases of AFP in the area.

But it does illustrate that we can easily see a return of vaccine-preventable disease if we don’t keep vaccinating until they are eradicated. Remember, low vaccination coverage is associated with outbreaks of cVDPV. If everyone is vaccinated and protected, then they won’t get polio, whether it is wild type or shed from someone who was vaccinated.

Latest Updates on AFP in Venezuela

While a Sabin type 3 polio virus had been initially isolated from the stool samples of the unvaccinated 34-month-old boy with polio symptoms, further tests have now been completed.

“Tests carried out by the specialized global laboratory for genetic sequencing have ruled out the presence of both wild poliovirus and vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV). The latter- VDPV- is a Sabin virus with genetic mutations that give it the ability to produce the disease. There is no risk of spread to the community or outbreaks of polio from this case.”

PAHO

So what does he have?

The possibilities are non-polio AFP, as many viruses and other diseases can cause polio-like symptoms.

So why did he have the Sabin type 3 polio virus in his stool?

It is well known that the oral polio vaccines shed. Even though he was  unvaccinated, he was likely exposed to others in the community who were recently vaccinated, as it is possible to shed the vaccine virus in your stool. The attenuated (weakened) vaccine virus is unlikely to cause symptoms though, unless it develops the mutations found in VDPV strains, which this one didn’t.

“The child is being further evaluated clinically to determine alternative causes of paralysis. The final classification of the case of acute flaccid paralysis [to define whether or not it is associated with the vaccine] will be based on clinical and virological criteria assessed at 60 days after the onset of paralysis.”

PAHO

So despite what folks are reporting, they didn’t say that this case couldn’t be associated with the polio vaccine. We just know that it is isn’t wild polio and the virus doesn’t have the mutations associated with cVDPV strains, which can not only cause polio symptoms, but can also spread from one person to another, causing outbreaks.

Remember, although the attenuated vaccine virus in the oral polio vaccine is unlikely to cause polio symptoms, it sometimes can, in about 1 in 2.7 million doses.

“VAPP at this time can’t be ruled out, of course, as it’s one of the possibilities.”

Communications Officer
Global Polio Eradication Initiative

Could this child have VAPP?

“A VAPP case was most often defined as a case of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) with residual paralysis (compatible with paralytic poliomyelitis) lasting at least 60 days, and occurring in an OPV recipient between 4 and 40 days after the dose of OPV was administered, or in a person who has had known contact with a vaccine recipient between 7 and 60–75 days after the dose of OPV was administered.”

Platt et al on Vaccine-Associated Paralytic Poliomyelitis: A Review of the Epidemiology and Estimation of the Global Burden

I guess we will find out in a few weeks, as his symptoms started at the end of April.

Still, remember that VAPP is not contagious.

What to Know About Polio Returning to Venezuela

Several cases of a vaccine strain of polio virus have been found in Venezuela, which is linked to low vaccinated levels.

More on Polio Returning to Venezuela

Updated June 17, 2018

National Infant Immunization Week 2018

This year, from April 21 – April 28, 2018, we celebrate the 24th annual National Infant Immunization Week.

History of National Infant Immunization Week

The last week in April was first designated as National Infant Immunization Week in 1994, by President Bill Clinton.

“Under our plan, every one of the things we could ever think of to do to get kids immunized will be done.”

President Bill Clinton on Remarks on Signing the National Infant Immunization Week Proclamation

The theme of the first NIIW?

Immunize on Time, Your Baby’s Counting on You

Other themes have included:

  • You Gave Them Life…Protect It. (2000)
  • Vaccination: an Act of Love. Love Them. Protect Them. Immunize Them. (2004)

In addition to NIIW, during the last week of April, we also observe World Immunization Week and Vaccination Week in the Americas.

National Infant Immunization Week 2018

What’s the theme of this year’s National Infant Immunization Week?

Power to Protect.

We have the power to protect our kids from more than 16 vaccine preventable diseases.

National Infant Immunization Week 2018

Thinking of skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines? Know that immunization is a responsibility we all share. We all must work together to help protect everyone in our community, including those who are too young to be vaccinated and those who can’t be vaccinated.

WIW-2018-poster-en-tn

“We must not tolerate a world in which a child dies from a disease that can be easily prevented with a low-cost vaccine.”

Dr Tedros, WHO Director-General on World Immunization Week 2018

Vaccination Week in the Americas 2018

Vaccines are safe and necessary. Vaccines work.

Get vaccinated and protected.

What to Know About National Infant Immunization Week

National Infant Immunization Week is a great time to learn more about the importance of vaccinating and protecting your kids.

More on National Infant Immunization Week

The Latest Measles Outbreak in Kansas

Several things are troubling about the measles outbreak in Kansas.

For one thing, it involved a lot of infants who were too young to be vaccinated. Their parents didn’t get to make a choice about getting vaccinated or getting measles. They got measles.

There are at least 18 cases of measles in current Kansas outbreak.
An ongoing measles outbreak in Kansas is up to 18 cases.

Also, as the case count climbs to 18, we are only now learning how the outbreak got started.

 

Greg Lakin, the chief medical officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the current outbreak started when an infant who was too young to be vaccinated picked up the virus in Asia. That infant then returned to a Johnson County day care.

What You Need to Know About the JoCo Outbreak

But what does too young to be vaccinated mean?

Remember that if you are traveling out of the country, infants should get their first MMR early, as early as six months of age.

Update on the Measles Outbreak in Kansas

Since the outbreak in a daycare in Johnson County was discovered on March 8, a total of 18 measles cases have been identified, including:

  • 14 Johnson County residents, including one new case
  • three Linn County residents, including one new case
  • one Miami County resident not associated with the daycare

The latest cases could have exposed other people to measles at:

  • Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in the Lobby and Sanctuary; 13300 Kenneth Rd., Leawood, KS; April 8 from 10:30 a.m.to 1:30 p.m.
  • Blue Mound Federated Church; General Delivery, Blue Mound, KS; April 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Olathe Health Family Medicine; 302 N.1st St, Mound City, KS; March 26 and 28 from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
  • Olathe Health Family Medicine; 1017 E. Market St, La Cygne, KS; March 27 from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM, March 29 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, March 30 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and April 2 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Casey’s General Store; 207 S. 9th St, Mound City, KS; March 26 from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM, March 28 from 12:00 PM to 2:30 PM, March 30 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and April 2 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m
  • Casey’s General Store; 406 E. Market St, LaCygne, KS;March 27 from 12:00
    PM to 2:30 PM
  • Linn County Judicial Building; 318 Chestnut St., Mound City, KS; March 30 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Applebee’s; 16110 W. 135thSt., Olathe, KS; March 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Main Street Liquor; 411 E. Main St., Osawatomie, KS; March 30 from 9:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Dollar General; 110 S. 9thSt., Mound City, KS;March 29 from 5:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Since there is a 10 to 21 day incubation period for measles, all these new cases could have been exposed at:

  • Auburn Pharmacy; 625 E Main. St, Mound City, KS; on March 13th from 4:15 PM to 6:45 PM
  • Aldi’s; 15290 W. 119th St Olathe, KS 66062; on March 2nd from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
  • Payless Discount Foods; 2101 E. Santa Fe St, Olathe, KS; on March 6th from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
  • El Potro Mexican Café; 602 N Pearl St, Paola, KS on March 7th from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
  • Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas Emergency Department; 5808 W 110th St, Overland Park, KS on March 8th and March 10th in the morning
  • AMC Dine – In Studio 28; 12075 S. Strang Line Rd, Olathe, KS; March 9th from 3:30 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Budget Coin Laundry; 798 E Main St, Gardner, KS; on March 9th from 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM
  • Olathe YMCA swimming pool and locker room; 21400 W. 153rd St, Olathe, KS; on March 10th from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM
  • Bath and Body Works at Legends Outlets; 1803 Village W Pkwy, Kansas City, KS; on March 10th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
  • Crazy 8 at Legends Outlets; 1843 Village W Pkwy, Kansas City, KS ; on March 10th after 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
  • Orange Leaf; 11524 W 135th St Overland Park, KS; on March 10th from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
  • Chick-fil-A; 12087 S Blackbob Rd, Olathe, KS on March 24th 8:15 PM till Close
  • Olathe YMCA – ENTIRE FACILITY INCLUDING CHILDCARE AREA; 21400 W. 153rd St, Olathe, KS on March 22nd and 23rd from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM
  • Walgreens; 7500 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO on March 22nd, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
  • Chuck E. Cheese’s; 15225 W 134th Pl, Olathe, KS on March 21st, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

If you were exposed and aren’t immune to measles (two doses of the MMR vaccine provide good protection), then you should watch for signs and symptoms to develop 10 to 21 days after your last exposure (in quarantine).

With the new exposures, that means that we could expect to see new cases associated with this outbreak any time between now and April 29th (the last exposure and the longest incubation period).

A History of Measles Outbreaks in Kansas

Some folks probably recall that this isn’t the first big measles outbreak in Kansas.

One of the largest measles outbreaks of 2014 was in the Kansas City metropolitan area. That year, at least 28 people developed measles, including a newborn who was only two weeks old.

In addition to the outbreak in Kansas City, there was another large outbreak that year in Sedgwick County – Wichita, Kansas.

And like most measles outbreaks, other states were affected too. Someone from Texas developed measles after getting exposed to measles at a softball tournament in Wichita.

More recently, outbreaks in Kansas have included:

  • a suspected case at William Allen White Elementary School in Lyon County, Kansas which has led to the quarantine of unvaccinated students for 3 weeks (2017)
  • a case in Butler County, Kansas. (2017)
  • a case in Sedgwick County, Kansas, a child too young to be vaccinated who may have been exposed at a church. Three other exposed infants who were too young to be vaccinated and who were considered at risk to get measles in this outbreak received immunoglobulin treatment. (2017)
  • a second case in the Wichita, Kansas area, this time in Sedgwick County, with exposures at a church, dental office, elementary school, and multiple stores over at least 3 days. (2017)

Why are there still so many measles outbreaks in Kansas?

Like in other places with outbreaks, it is likely explained by relatively high levels of non-medical exemptions and clusters of unvaccinated children and adults.

Hopefully this outbreak will be a good reminder that vaccines are necessary and everyone will get their kids caught up and protected.

What to Know About the Measles Outbreak in Kansas

Kansas is in the middle of another large measles outbreak and as usual, it is mostly among those who are unvaccinated, including many too young to be vaccinated.

More on the Measles Outbreak in Kansas

Updated on April 21, 2018

Measles Returns to California

Breaking News – There are now six cases of measles in the San Francisco Bay Area, all unvaccinated, in an ongoing outbreak that has also spread to Nevada.

There are now six cases of measles in the San Francisco Bay Area as the outbreak grows.

Is anyone surprised that a student in California has measles?

Actually, a lot of folks are probably surprised. After all, didn’t lawmakers in California recently pass a law that mandated everyone in school get vaccinated?

Well yeah, but SB277 didn’t apply to all students. Only new students and those transitioning to a new grade span (for example, moving from K-6th to 7th grade) have to meet the new minimum immunization requirements. That means it will take more than a few years until all of the kids already in school whose parents have skipped or delayed any vaccines have gotten caught up or have graduated.

And that means we will still see some of these outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.

There is also a little issue with medical exemptions somehow rising being abused after the personal belief exemption was eliminated in the state…

Measles Outbreaks in California

When you think of measles and California, most people probably think of the 2015 Disneyland outbreak, which was linked to:

  • 134 cases in California, including at least 50 cases without a known source
  • 13 cases in Arizona, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon
  • 1 case in Mexico
  • 159 cases in Canada

The Disneyland outbreak included a lot of intentionally unvaccinated kids and kept unvaccinated kids from school, closed daycare centers, and led to hospitalizations of more than a few people.

“The ongoing measles outbreak linked to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, shines a glaring spotlight on our nation’s growing antivaccination movement and the prevalence of vaccination-hesitant parents.”

Majumder et al. on Substandard Vaccination Compliance and the 2015 Measles Outbreak

Schools in California were closed for at least two weeks in 1917 because of measles epidemics.

The Disneyland outbreak wasn’t the first big measles outbreak in California in recent years though.

No, I’m not talking about the really big outbreaks from the pre-vaccine era. Or even the outbreaks in the late 1980s, just before we started giving an MMR booster. Believe it or not, 75 people died between 1988 and 1990 with measles – just in California.

More recently, there was the 2008 outbreak in San Diego that was triggered by an unvaccinated 7-year-old boy who had traveled to Switzerland with his family.

He returned with measles and got at least 10 other unvaccinated children sick, including four infants who were too young to be vaccinated and were unknowingly exposed at their pediatrician’s office.

“Almost 100 children (including babies who were too young for the MMR vaccine) were quarantined or hospitalized after they were exposed at the pediatrician’s office, Whole Foods or day care. In all, 11 children caught the measles. As it turns out, the boy who spread measles is a patient of Dr. Bob Sears…”

OC’s Dr. Bob Sears discusses measles outbreak on NPR

One of those infants was hospitalized when his fever spiked to 106 degrees and he wouldn’t eat or drink.

“We spent 3 days in the hospital fearing we might lose our baby boy. He couldn’t drink or eat, so he was on an IV, and for a while he seemed to be wasting away. When he began to be able to drink again we got to take him home. But the doctors told us to expect the disease to continue to run its course, including high fever—which did spike as high as 106 degrees. We spent a week waking at all hours to stay on schedule with fever reducing medications and soothing him with damp wash cloths. Also, as instructed, we watched closely for signs of lethargy or non-responsiveness. If we’d seen that, we’d have gone back to the hospital immediately.”

Megan Campbell on 106 Degrees: A True Story

Measles cases also began rising in 2011, as unvaccinated travelers brought measles back from trips to Europe, Asia, and Africa, where there were large outbreaks.  There were 31 measles cases in California in 2011.

While 31 cases might not seem like much, consider that between 2001 through 2006, there were just 66 cases in California, with only 4 cases in 2005!

Will we ever get to a year with just 4 cases in California again?

It didn’t happen in 2017.

Last year started with a big outbreak in Los Angeles County that grew to include at least 24 cases and a few surrounding counties. There was also a case involving an unvaccinated student at Laguna Beach High in Orange County which led to the quarantine of at least 6 unvaccinated students.

The Latest California Measles Outbreak

What kind of a measles year will we see in 2018 in California?

There is just one case, so far.

Well, it was just one case. There are six cases now… Seven if you count the linked case in Nevada.

Did you eat lunch at the Westgate Center food court on Friday, March 2?
Did you eat lunch at the Westgate Center food court on Friday, March 2?

It started when an unvaccinated student returned from a trip to Europe and developed measles, exposing others between February 28 through March 2 in Santa Clara County at a school in Campbell and at the Westgate Center food court in San Jose.

An infant hospitalized during a measles outbreak in the Philippines in which 110 people died.
The measles rash begins 3-5 days after other measles symptoms, which is why measles is often hard to diagnose.

With an average incubation period of 10 to 12 days, that means exposed people might begin to show symptoms by March 14. Keep in mind that the incubation period can be as long as 21 days though, so be on the watch for measles symptoms until at least March 23 if you could have been exposed.

Since we don’t know when the new cases began to show symptoms, it is hard to know how much longer we can expect to see new cases. Hopefully these folks were already in quarantine and didn’t expose anyone else.

Would you recognize measles?

It is important to understand that the first symptoms of measles don’t include a rash. Instead, you get a high fever, runny nose, cough, and pink eye. The measles rash comes a few days later, as the high fever continues.

It is also important to understand the the MMR vaccine is safe and works very well to prevent measles.

This exposure is a great reminder that vaccines are necessary and that you shouldn’t wait for your kids to get exposed to get them caught up and vaccinated and protected.

What to Know About Measles Outbreaks in California

A recent outbreak of measles in California, this time in Santa Clara County, is a good reminder that the MMR vaccine is necessary to keep your kids protected.

More on Measles Outbreaks in California

Updated April 7, 2018

Mumps at the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship

The boys and girls at the 2018 National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship in Dallas were hoping to go home with a trophy.

Some got a little more – exposure to mumps.

Mumps at the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship

If you don’t have a kid in competitive cheer, you should know that the NCA All-Star Nationals is a big deal.

Over 1,300 teams with more than 23,000 cheerleaders were competing. They came from 9 countries and 38 states for a 3 day competition at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a warning that a person with mumps was present at the NCA All-Star Nationals.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a warning that a person with mumps was present at the NCA All-Star Nationals.

They worked hard, but they had fun.

And some of them may have been exposed to mumps.

What to Do If You Were Exposed to Mumps at the NCA All-Star Nationals

So what do you do if you were exposed to mumps in Dallas?

While mumps is a vaccine-preventable disease, even kids who have gotten two MMR shots can still get mumps. That’s because waning immunity causes the vaccine to become less effective over time.

Still, mumps is not nearly as contagious as other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles. You generally have to have close contact with someone with mumps to catch it.

“The mumps virus replicates in the upper respiratory tract and spreads through direct contact with respiratory secretions or saliva or through fomites. The risk of spreading the virus increases the longer and the closer the contact a person has with someone who has mumps.”

CDC on Mumps for Healthcare Providers

Unless you were on the same team as the person with mumps (if it was a cheerleader), your risk of getting sick probably isn’t that high. Of course, the risk goes up the more contact you had.

Mumps is not just for kids anymoreUnfortunately, neither a post-exposure dose of MMR nor immune globulin work to prevent mumps after you are already exposed.

At this point, whether or not your child is vaccinated, all you can do is wait and watch to see if they develop signs or symptoms of mumps.

With an incubation period of 12 to 25 days, that means that those who were exposed could get sick between March 7 and March 22.

While there is no treatment for mumps, you do want to watch for complications and make sure you don’t expose anyone else.

And if your child is unvaccinated, this exposure is a good reminder that outbreaks still happen, vaccines are necessary, and this is a good time to get caught up.

Mumps and Cheer

Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time we are hearing about mumps at a cheer competition.

In 2016, mumps exposures at several cheer competitions in North Texas led to at least 11 cases of mumps.

Why cheer? It’s not cheer, but the nature of cheer competitions. You just have a lot of older kids together at these competitions from a lot of different places and the MMR vaccine is known to have an issue with waning immunity.

Fortunately, most of these kids are vaccinated, which helps keep these outbreaks from really getting out of control, like they did in the pre-vaccine era.

What to Know About Mumps at the NCA All-Star Nationals

Tens of thousands of kids could have been exposed to mumps at a cheerleader competition in Dallas.

More on Mumps at the NCA All-Star Nationals

 

 

 

The Strategic Plan to Develop a Universal Influenza Vaccine

Even before you get to talk about problems with flu vaccine effectiveness,  it becomes clear that everyone wants a better flu vaccine.

One big problem with the current generation of flu vaccines?

You have to get them each and every year.

Developing a Better Flu Vaccine

So what would we all want in a new and better flu vaccine?

It would:

  • last longer, so you didn’t have to get a new vaccine every year
  • be more effective
  • cover more flu vaccine strains, so it wasn’t a “guess” about which flu strains to include in the flu vaccine each year and we didn’t have to worry about drifted flu vaccine strains or new and emerging strains for which there is no vaccine

A universal flu vaccine, which covers all possible flu strains, would be ideal.

So why haven’t we been working on developing a universal flu vaccine?

Well, we have.

It just isn’t that easy.

Many different research teams have been working on a universal flu vaccine for years and some have already had some success.

Does that mean we will see a universal flu vaccine soon?

Unfortunately, of the almost 40 organizations working on improved flu vaccines, including a universal flu vaccine, about 30 are still in preclinical or phase 1 trials. So the answer is no, we will not see a universal flu vaccine soon.

The Strategic Plan to Develop a Universal Influenza Vaccine

Maybe that will change now that more and more folks are pushing for a better flu vaccine and we see the effects of severe flu seasons without a good vaccine.

Of course, talk isn’t enough.

“A priority for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is development of an influenza vaccine providing durable protection against multiple influenza strains, including those that may cause a pandemic, i.e., a universal influenza vaccine. To invigorate research efforts, NIAID developed a strategic plan focused on knowledge gaps in three major research areas, as well as additional resources required to ensure progress towards a universal influenza vaccine. NIAID will use this plan as a foundation for future investments in influenza research and will support and coordinate a consortium of multidisciplinary scientists focused on accelerating progress towards this goal.”

Erbelding et al on A Universal Influenza Vaccine: The Strategic Plan for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

That’s why it is also encouraging that we have seen the:

  • The Flu Vaccine Act would help fund a universal flu vaccine.the Pathway to a Universal Influenza Vaccine workshop convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 2017
  • the Strategic Plan for Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine by the NIAID that was announced in 2018
  • U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Flu Vaccine Act, which would invest $1 billion towards development of a universal flu vaccine

Knowing that developing a universal flu vaccine is a priority of the NIAID and that so many organizations are already working towards this goal is very reassuring.

Hopefully we are a lot closer than some folks thing.

Until then, a seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to avoid the flu and serious flu complications.

What to Know About Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine

Developing a better flu vaccine, including a universal flu vaccine, is an even bigger priority with the announcement of the Strategic Plan for Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine.

More on Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine

FluMist Is Coming Back

FluMist is a live, attenuated nasal spray flu vaccine.

While pediatricians, parents and kids loved it, since it wasn’t a shot, it hasn’t been available since 2016 because it was found to be less effective than flu shots against the H1N1 strain of flu.

The History of FluMist

FluMist had been a good option for kids who don't want to get a flu shot every year.
FluMist had been a good option for kids who don’t want to get a flu shot every year. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

The FluMist nasal spray was first approved in 2003 for healthy kids over age 5 years and adults up to age 49 years.

In 2007, the age range was expanded to included healthy children between the ages of 2 and 5 years.

It quickly became a favorite of kids who didn’t like the idea of getting a flu shot each year, although some kids didn’t like getting something sprayed into their nose.

Next, in 2012, FluMist Quadrivalent, with protection against four strains of flu virus, was approved.

While some experts initially thought it might work better than traditional flu shots and it actually became the preferred flu vaccine for kids in 2014, by 2016, FluMist was no longer recommended in the United States.

The Return of FluMist

On February 12, 2017, at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), members voted to once again recommended FluMist Quadrivalent to prevent the flu. It will be available for next year’s flu season, although the recommendation still has to be approved by the director of the CDC.

What happened to FluMist?

“In the 2013-2014 influenza season, when lower than expected effectiveness of FluMist Quadrivalent was first observed, Influenza A (H1N1) was the predominant circulating influenza virus strain. When the data showing lower than expected vaccine effectiveness became available, FDA began working with MedImmune to investigate potential reasons for this finding.”

FDA Information Regarding FluMist Quadrivalent Vaccine

Although they worked on a fix after the 2013-2014 influenza season, the following season showed poor effectiveness for all flu vaccines because of a drifted flu strain. So it wasn’t until the following year that it was noticed that FluMist still didn’t work as well as a flu shot against H1N1 flu strains, at least not in the United States.

Surprisingly, studies in other countries, including Finland and the UK showed that FluMist did work.

And now MedImmune, the company that makes FluMist, has replaced the H1N1 seed virus it uses to make FluMist, and preliminary testing shows that it is more effective and should be as effective as a flu shot.

That’s why the ACIP voted 12-2 to make FluMist available for the 2018-2019 flu season.

Will you get it for your kids next year, instead of a regular flu shot? If the number of parents and kids asking for FluMist this year is any guide, many will be glad it’s back.

What to Know About the Return of FluMist

FluMist has hopefully been improved, been made more effective, and will be ready to help prevent the flu for the 2018-2019 flu season. It will be an especially good option for those kids who don’t want a shot.

More on the Return of Flumist