Medical Minute: Flu Shot Changes

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MINOT, N.D. - This week's Medical Minute brings bad news for anyone afraid of needles. With flu season approaching, the CDC is recommending the nasal spray vaccine not be given this year after its effectiveness came into question.

Kids will have to face a real flu shot now that the CDC and The American Academy Of Pediatrics say the nasal spray "Flumist" has shown to be ineffective.

"So where as it showed stronger response in the laboratory and all of the pre-licensing phases, in the real world we did not see any substantial reductions in hospital admissions, severe illnesses from flu and all of that," Pediatrician Dr. Koyejo Oyerinde said.

Everyone should get a flu shot, but kids and the elderly are especially susceptible to the virus, but unfortunately a lot of misinformation is out there about potential side effects of the injection.

"There's a whole gamut of things that make people concerned. Some people it's just fear of the shot, others it's what they've read on the internet but most of those fears are unfounded. Year to year the vaccines get better refined and better refined," Oyerinde said.

The vaccine itself is made with an inactive virus, so you can't actually get the flu from the shot.

Because the structure of the flu virus is always changing, every year the World Health Organization meets to try and anticipate the upcoming flu season and tailor the vaccine for those strains they expect to see.

"The current injectable vaccine has four different strains of the common flu viruses," Oyerinde said.

Experts say the injection was about 63 percent effective in protecting against the flu last year.

"In some years we get a good forecast and the shot is very very effective. In other years the forecast is a little bit off and it's not as effective, but it's still worth getting the vaccine," Oyerinde said.

Even if you do get the flu after getting a flu shot, you're likely to have a much more mild case.

Now is the time to get your flu shot. Flu activity often increases in October, peaks between December and March and can last as late as May.