Australian children may get their next flu vaccine through a nasal spray instead of a painful needle, health authorities say.
The push to switch from ouch-inducing flu shot to pain-free nasal spray for children under five comes despite US health authorities warning against using the flu spray on kids this year.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer is looking at bringing the spray vaccine here for 2018. The vaccine assessment comes after the worst flu season on record. More than 14 people died, including 8-year-old Melbourne girl Rosie Brealey and Queensland teenager Maddy Jones.
National flu vaccine program for kids
There’s also a push for the government to fund a national flu immunisation program for kids in 2018 to try and limit the spread of the flu. Children were blamed as “super spreaders” of the virus this year, passing it onto their vulnerable grandparents and helping trigger Australia’s worst ever flu epidemic.
The Queensland Government has already announced it will introduce a free flu vaccination program for under fives.
Professor Brendan Murphy told reporters yesterday he is looking at clinical evidence from overseas and “would seriously look at bringing it here” if the research shows a sniff vaccine works for children under five.
But Mum Central can reveal that the US chief health body is warning parents not to use a nasal flu spray because it won’t protect their children. Parents are instead urged to give their children a standard flu needle.
“The nasal spray flu vaccine (trade name FluMist®) is not recommended this season because of concerns that it may not work well,” a statement from the US Centers for Disease Control says.
“Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.”
2017 flu vaccine not strong enough
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the government is working towards getting a stronger flu vaccine next year. He says the vaccine’s focus will be on older Australians hit hard in this winter’s flu epidemic.
He says they are doing “everything in our power to protect and save lives next year when the flu season hits”.
“Alongside Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, I have been working behind the scenes for many months to secure a stronger and more effective flu vaccine,” he says.
“The vaccinations must stack up and go through the normal independent process but we will look at doing this in the shortest possible time frame.”
‘She’ll be right’ is wrong
Australian Medical Association vice-president Tony Bartone says “the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude” is also to blame for the outbreak. He says Australians need to rethink their reluctance to take time of work if they have the flu.
“The Australian character does not give this dangerous virus its due respect,” he says.
If flu or colds are still plaguing your house, here’s some tips for helping children cope with being sick.