This article does a very good job of outlining the results of a new, as-yet unpublished study comparing the Flumist nasal spray flu vaccine against the traditional flu shot in infants and young children. It clearly explains the context for the study (currently, only the shot is approved for use in children younger than 5; researchers wanted to find out if the nasal spray was safe and effective in this age group). The article describes how the study was done, and clearly explains how the shot and spray were compared. It also notes that the results are being presented at a meeting. However, it would have been helpful to note what this means: they have not yet been peer-reviewed – not yet reviewed by other experts in the field who were not involved in the study.
The article is appropriately cautious about the FDA status of the nasal spray vaccine. While it notes that the vaccine maker plans to apply for FDA approval for use in young children, the article does not make any claims about the likelihood that it will be approved. It notes some safety concerns that are still being studied.
The article’s explanation of how the nasal spray vaccine is thought to work differently from the traditional flu shot is clear and helpful. A mention of the old standby – handwashing – as a way to slow the spread of flu germs, would have been a useful addition, as would information about how the costs of the two vaccines compare.
The article does not mention the cost of either the nasal spray vaccine or the flu shot.
The article notes the actual numbers of children who came down with flu in each of the two groups: those who got the nasal spray vaccine and those who got the flu shot. This detail is provided in addition to the relative difference (55% better for the nasal spray), which by itself could have been hard to interpret.
The article notes how many more children were affected by a side effect of the nasal spray compared with the flu shot; however, it does not mention how many children were affected overall in each group.
The article describes how the study was done, and clearly explains how the shot and spray were compared. It also notes that the results are being presented at a meeting. However, it would have been helpful to note what this means: they have not yet been peer-reviewed – not yet reviewed by other experts in the field who were not involved in the study.
The article quotes both a researcher involved in the study and an independent expert who was not. Quotes from the researcher are different than those included in the press release.
The article doesn’t mention other ways to reduce spread of flu vaccine, including handwashing.
It is clear from the article that the vaccine is currently available for children ages 5 and older.
The article clearly explains that the nasal spray vaccine itself is not new, but that its use in infants and young children is new.
Medimmune, maker of the Flumist nasal spray vaccine, has issued several press releases on these new findings. However, the article also quotes a vaccine expert who was not involved in the study, so it does not appear that this story relied solely or largely on a news release.