Flu Shot Changes

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COLUMBIA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed its guidelines for flu shot vaccinations in children, according to the agency's website.

The CDC now recommends children ages six months through eight years receive two flu shots at least 28 days apart. The agency also recommends children older than eight years receive two shots this fall if they have received just one annually prior.

Children under the age of eight who have already been vaccinated in years prior will not need a second shot.

Dr. Christelle Ilboudo, a pediatric infectious disease physician at MU Health care, said the two shots are important for children as their immune system is still developing.

"Younger children take time to grow their immune system to the fullest, so they are the ones who tend to get really sick when they have the flu," Dr. Ilboudo said. "Usually we see younger children, especially under five, get the flu where [adults] may just get a cold."

According to the CDC, this year's vaccine protects against two type A and one type B Influenza strains.

According to Dr. Ilboudo, the A strain varies from year to year, and this year's vaccine includes two strains which research shows will be most prevalent this season.

For the second straight year, the agency says Flumist, an nasal mist which had served as alternative to a shot, is no longer recommended because it is significantly less effective. According to CNN, the CBC reported the flu mist to be 46% effective, compared to the shot's 65%. While not recommended, the mist is still approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Dr. Ilboudo said the mist is ineffective because, unlike the shot, it goes through nasal passages and does not directly enter the blood stream.

"There are so instances in which the vaccine is not administered adequately," Dr. Ilboudo said. "For that reason and it having to go through the nasal passage first, it does not protect as well as the shot."

Columbia Public Schools annually offers free flu shots to its students and has already started vaccinations for the 2017-2018 school year. Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark said the CDC's recommendation would not change vaccination procedures this year, but it would be reviewed for next year.

The Boone County Health and Human Services Department offers free flu shots to children ages six months through eight years. According to the department's website, adults will be charged a small fee, although no one will be turned away for an inability to pay.