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Wednesday October 21, 09:04

An H1N1 vaccine as nasal spray in the U.S.

Vaccination against the H1N1 virus, based on FluMist, at a school in Miami (Florida)
Vaccination against the H1N1 virus, based on FluMist, at a school in Miami (Florida)

FluMist is currently the vaccine against influenza A that is spoken most in the United States. Vaccination started there earlier this month and has already outshone all its competitors.

Why? Because it is the only H1N1 vaccine to be administered as a nasal spray. The others are injected intramuscularly. The result can be seen everywhere, on television and in newspapers.

The image of vaccination it gives is reassuring: a child docile and trusting, a syringe into one nostril as if he puts drops in his nose against the cold. Nothing really bad then and especially not that "dreadful" prick feared by many.

It is clear that anything that allows vaccination to be better accepted by the population is a good thing. The nasal spray is not a panacea but it is an interesting idea in the arsenal against influenza.

Done in Philadelphia by the US biotech firm MedImmune acquired in 2007 by the laboratory AstraZeneca, FluMist was the first ready to be distributed in the United States.

Vaccine by nasal spray is not unknown in the United States. It was authorized in 2003 against seasonal flu by the FDA (the U.S. Agency of Medicines and Food Safety). On 15 September it has been approved against the H1N1 virus for healthy people aged 2 years to 49 years. It protects 92% higher than a placebo in children aged 15 months to 7 years.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has issued several restrictions on its use. Thus, for example, persons in contact with severely immunocompromised people should not be vaccinated with FluMist (e.g. hospital staff). They may indeed provide flu to patients. Same restrictions for pregnant women, children younger than 2 years, asthmatics, people with heart or respiratory problems and allergies.

To acceptability of FluMist in the U.S. also favours the fact that, unlike other H1N1 vaccine, it does not contain thimerosal, a mercury compound that promotes conservation.


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