The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever nasal spray flu vaccine. It's called Flumist, and the FDA has given the okay that it's a safe and effective alternative to the old flu shot that's been offered for decades.
We've told you this new vaccine was coming. Remember, it's the one you squirt up your nose, which is where it can stimulate the immune system through the same nose tissue where the flu virus first attacks.
Flumist is the first nasally administered vaccine to be marketed in the U.S. It uses a live but weakened virus because that's what helps build our immunity.
Scientists had hoped this spray would be ideal for kids who are afraid of shots, but unfortunately Flumist is not recommended for kids under age five. Actually, it's just an option from age 5 to 50, so even seniors will still have to get a flu shot. It's just the millions in the middle who can get protection from a squirt instead of a sting this flu season.
Researchers found that in kids under age five, Flumist increased the risk of asthma attacks. That's why it's approved for use in ages 5 to 50. The vaccine will be marketed by Medimmune and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Tuesday's approval comes in time for the 2003-2004 flu season.
The flu is responsible for an average of about 36,000 deaths per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.