Santa Cruz County

Flu season: shots only, no more mist vaccinations

Nasal mist found to be less effective than injections

Health experts push for flu shot instead of flu mists

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - It's the start of flu season and we've got some bad news for those who don't like needles. Health officials said over the past couple years the flu mist hasn't worked and this winter it's the flu shot that's your best bet from getting sick. With a squirt in each nostril most people prefer the flu mist because it doesn't hurt, but now doctors said it isn't helping their health either.

"We're not sure how affective it ever was so I think it's a problem of developing antibodies in the nose which is not as easily done as if you give the injection," said Dr. Arnold Leff, interim police officer for Santa Cruz County Health.

It's the injection of the shot that most kids and even some adults can't bare to see. The U.S. health officials said in recent years, a third of the kids that get the flu vaccine, chose the flu mist.

"I'm worried about that and I'm worried that since the flu mist is not available that people will in fact opt out of getting the flu shot, which is really a big mistake," said Dr. Leff.

Health officials said flu injections are not 100 percent preventive, that's why it's important that everyone gets them to keep viruses from spreading, especially in schools.

"We have about three to five percent of students missing school on any given day of the school year particularly during the cold flu season. It's really important if students aren't healthy they can't come to school and if they do come to school not feeling well it's hard to learn," said Santa Cruz City Schools director, Eileen Brown.

Despite the flu mist problem, the CDC expects to have enough flu shots to meet the U.S. demand for $168 million doses. Flu season typically peaks in January but there's no way to predict when it will start spreading, and it takes two weeks to kick in.

"It's time to get over any fear of needles as people grow older there's going to be injections that are going to be necessary and a flu shot is one of those necessary injections," said Dr. Leff.

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