The needle-free FluMist influenza vaccine is coming back to the U.S. after two years off the market, promising a less painful way for people to inoculate themselves against the infectious disease.
The nasal-spray version of the vaccination was off the menu for the last couple years as it was largely ineffective in combating a particular strain in children.
However, its maker—AstraZeneca’s MedImmune—reformulated FluMist, and now it’s won the tentative approval of federal experts starting with the next flu season.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 12-2 to reintroduce FluMist to the American market and have insurance companies pay for its use, but did not go so far as to actively endorse it. Instead, it’s now just up to doctors as to whether they choose to use it or not.
All eyes are now on the reformulated FluMist’s effectiveness, as experts have worried that poor effectiveness will turn people off flu vaccines. It’s already the case that most Americans don’t get a flu vaccine every year, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend they do.
According to an NBC News report, some ACIP members are worried that an ineffective FluMist will hurt public perceptions, but others argue that the lack of a needle-free option turns kids off getting vaccinated.
A recent influenza epidemic has been killing an estimated 4,000 people in the U.S. every week, with current vaccines offering a low success rate, although there are signs that the outbreak may be drawing to a close.