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Nasal flu vaccine works better than shot, says SLU study


By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – A world-wide study has concluded that children are 55 percent less likely to come down with flu when given a nasal spray vaccine.

Dr. Robert Belshe of the St. Louis University School of Medicine was the lead researcher on the study.

Belshe says a vaccine targeted at children between the ages of 1 and 5 will have the greatest impact in reducing overall cases of influenza.

"Young children seem to be the major spreaders of flu in our society," says Belshe, "and so public health thinking right now seems to lean toward policies that vaccinate all children."

The study was the largest ever pediatric study comparing a nasal spray vaccine with the traditional flu shot. Belshe hypothesizes that nasal vaccine may work better because it creates a more complete immune response.

"Flu mist vaccine works better because it stimulates the full range of immune responses, including antibodies that circulate in the bloodstream, and you get those from the flu shot too. But, what you don't get from the flu shot is antibodies present in the nose."

Belshe's analysis found that children between the ages of 1 and 5 were 55 percent less likely to catch influenza when vaccinated with the spray vaccine.

The study was conducted in 8,500 children over four continents. Dr. Belshe hopes to have an FDA approved vaccine available for children by the fall.