Wednesday, February 21, 2007

International Herald Tribune Editorial - Sniff and the flu

International Herald Tribune Editorial - Sniff and the flu
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: February 20, 2007

FluMist vaccine, a nasal spray that has never quite caught on in the marketplace, turns out to do a better job of protecting young children than a standard flu shot. This is a double blessing: better protection, and without those dreaded needles that send children into crying fits and turn parents into mush.

The good news came from a study involving some 7,800 children 6 months to 5 years old. The results, published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine, were striking. The children given FluMist came down with 55 percent fewer cases of the flu than did those given the standard shot.

The only cautionary note was that in children younger than 1 year, and in older children with a history of wheezing illness, there were slightly more hospitalizations in the FluMist group.

The results could open the way for the Food and Drug Administration to approve the use of FluMist in young children. Currently, it is approved for healthy, nonpregnant people 5 to 49 years old. One big barrier that has slowed its use, the fact that it had to be stored in a freezer, was removed last month with FDA approval of a version that can be stored in refrigerators, just as the injectable vaccines are. That should make it easier for schools, pharmacies and doctors to use the spray.

More widespread and effective vaccination of children would also be a boon for parents. Children are notorious Typhoid Marys who spread the virus in day care centers and schools and take it home. Anything that protects children should make everyone feel better.


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