The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has voted in favor of renewing the recommendation for the use of live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) Flumist® Quadrivalent for the 2018-2019 influenza season. 

The recommendation was based on new data which showed that the 2017-2018 H1N1 LAIV post-pandemic strain performed significantly better than the 2015-2016 strain. “This study validates the improvements we’ve made to our strain selection process and confirms an improved H1N1 LAIV strain was included in the 2017-2018 formulation,” said Gregory Keenan, Vice President, US Medical Affairs, Astrazeneca. 

In 2016, the ACIP had recommended that the LAIV, or the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season. A review of data from 2013 through 2016 showed that the vaccine offered children almost no protection against flu; in the 2015-2016 season LAIV protection rate was only 3%.

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According to the new study, the antibody response induced with the 2017-2018 LAIV strain was comparable to that seen with the strain included in the vaccine before the 2009 influenza pandemic. The study included 200 children between the ages of 2 to <4 years; after the first dose, 23% of children vaccinated with the 2017-2018 LAIV strain developed a 4-fold antibody rise, compared to 5% with the 2015-2016 LAIV strain. This increased to 45% and 12%, respectively, after the second dose. 

Flumist Quadrivalent remains available in limited quantities for the current season and, pending strain approval by the Food and Drug Administration, it will be available for the 2018-2019 influenza season. The vaccine is approved for use in persons 2 through 49 years of age.

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AstraZeneca announces renewed recommendation and availability of FLUMIST QUADRIVALENT vaccine in the US [press release]. Cambridge, United Kingdom: AstraZeneca. Published February 21, 2018; Accessed February 23, 2018.

This article originally appeared on MPR