Employee & Community Health

Register this summer for school influenza immunization program

5/14/2018 by Robert M. Jacobson, MD, and Jennifer Brickley, RN

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From September 17 to October 12, Employee and Community Health (ECH) participates in the Olmsted County influenza immunization program at most Olmsted County public and private schools. We also plan to include the Kasson-Mantorville schools in Dodge County so that we can meet the needs of our Mayo Family Clinic Kasson patients. You can register your children for the program form August 8 through September 12. 

One change to the program is that the nasal spray returns as an influenza immunization option for your child. Here are some answers to questions you may have about this change: 

Why is it back?

While you know it by its brand name, FluMist, the nasal spray's generic name is live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV). In February, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to add LAIV to its list of acceptable flu vaccines. Because Mayo Clinic follows ACIP's recommendations, ECH again will offer LAIV as an option this fall in our school flu program and in our practice. 

Why was it gone?

After reviewing data that indicated FluMist wasn't providing protection, especially for one strain in the vaccine, the ACIP chose not to recommend FluMist for the past two years. 

Why did ACIP change its recommendation? 

The company that makes FluMist has changed the problem strain. It presented evidence to ACIP that showed FluMist now produced stronger immune response than the earlier version. The ACIP also examined a systematic review of FluMist studies that showed it compared well with other forms of flu vaccine. 

Was FluMist still being used in the past two years?

The Food and Drug Administration licenses each flu vaccine based on immune response. It continued to license FluMist just as it had on the injected form. Other countries around the world continued to give FluMist, despite the U.S. decision not to do so. 

Dr. Robert M. Jacobson is a primary care pediatrician in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine and is the medical director of the ECH and Southeast Minnesota Region Immunization Programs. 

Jennifer L. Brickley is a registered nurse in Employee and Community Health (ECH) and is the program coordinator of the ECH Immunization Program.