Oct 25, 2007 (CIDRAP News) A federal advisory committee yesterday endorsed FluMist, the nasal-spray form of seasonal influenza vaccine, as a good option for children aged 2 through 4 years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), in recommending FluMist for the age-group, said the needle-free vaccine should be given only to healthy children, according to an Associated Press (AP) report yesterday. The committee said children who have a history of asthma should receive a standard flu shot. The CDC normally adopts ACIP recommendations.
The ACIP's vote came a little more than a month after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved FluMist for children in the 2- to 4-year-old group. The vaccine's previous FDA indication and ACIP recommendation was only for healthy people between the ages of 5 and 49. FluMist contains a weakened form of live virus and is made by MedImmune, based in Gaithersburg, Md., now part of AstraZeneca.
The committee didn't recommend FluMist over regular flu shots, but simply designated it as an option for small children who fear injections, the AP reported. Flu shots in general are recommended for children aged 6 months to 5 years, among several other groups at risk for flu complications.
The committee also recommended that a government program that funds vaccines for certain groups of children extend its coverage for FluMist to include the younger children, meaning more than 5 million children will be eligible to receive the nasal spray vaccine, the AP reported. The program covers children with Medicaid coverage, Native American and Alaska native groups, and some children whose medical insurance doesn't cover flu shots.
MedImmune has produced about 4.5 million doses of FluMist for the 2007-08 flu season, a company official told the AP. Last year the company made about 3 million doses.
With FluMist, three flu vaccines are now available in the United States for children younger than 5 years. The others are Fluzone, made by Sanofi Pasteur Inc., Swiftwater, Pa., approved for anyone older than 6 months, and Fluvirin, made by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Liverpool, England, licensed for ages 4 and up.
Sep 20 CIDRAP News story "FDA approves FluMist for 2- to 4-year-old children"