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SLU study: Flu shots not as effective as nose spray for kids

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The traditional flu shot isn't as effective as a nasal spray vaccine for young kids, according to a new SLU study (Reuters photo)

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Researchers at Saint Louis University say a nasal influenza vaccine works better in young children than a conventional flu shot. Doctors studied more than 8,000 kids between six months and five years old.

Researcher Donald Kennedy says the nasal spray turned out to be 55% more effective. "Influenza is a respiratory virus. It's acquired at the respiratory mucosa. There are immune responses in the respiratory mucosa. And that's somewhat different than say an injectible vaccine into your arm," Kennedy said Monday.

Kennedy also says the spray stimulates a stronger immune response because it uses a live virus that's been weakened. Flu shots commonly use just a piece of the virus.

The FDA has approved the spray for people age 5-49. This research could lead to the vaccine's approval for use in children under five.

Kennedy says one downside of the spray was some wheezing among a few infants. He says it's important for children to get vaccinated because they're more likely to get the flu and pass it onto others.

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