You may hear about how it’s time to get your flu shot at your next doctor’s appointment. No one likes getting an injection, and that fear or discomfort may keep patients from getting the protection they need from the various strains of flu virus.
By next year, though, some medical experts believe another form of flu vaccine can be available for people to give themselves at home — and without worrying about a needle.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing an application from AstraZeneca for a self-administered nasal flu vaccine called FluMist.
FluMist has been available to the public since the FDA approved its use in 2003. The nasal spray vaccine is suitable for most people ages 2 through 49.
AstraZeneca approached the FDA about the at-home administration of FluMist following their study of care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the success of COVID-19 swab tests showed medical experts the time might be right to expand at-home healthcare options.
“One of the things we’ve learned from the pandemic is that actually people can do things for themselves; they can take maybe more responsibility for their own health care in their own hands than perhaps we realized or even thought possible,” said Dr. Lisa Glasser, AstraZeneca’s head of U.S. medical affairs, vaccines and immune therapies, to CNN.
Each year, the flu (in various viral forms) affects nearly 1 billion people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Of that number, the flu causes between 290,000 and 650,000 respiratory deaths. Despite those numbers and the CDC’s recommendation that everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccine, only around 50% of the U.S. population gets the vaccination.
With an easy-to-administer nasal vaccine, doctors believe more people would take advantage of the medication that can help minimize the flu’s impact on the community. Documentation of vaccine administration, including limiting the medication to only those who qualify, is one of the elements the FDA is considering during the approval process.
CNN reports the FDA will likely decide about FluMist home administration sometime in early 2024.
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