The CDC on Friday offered its weekly snapshot of influenza activity so far this season. Among the findings for the week ending January 12:
Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses have predominated in most regions, although influenza A(H3) viruses have been most common in the Southeast.
Most circulating viruses are genetically similar to the reference viruses used for this year's flu vaccines.
All tested viruses have been susceptible to neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir). Information on susceptibility to the newly approved flu drug, baloxavir, will be available later in the season.
New York City and 22 states had either high or moderate influenza activity.
The CDC also estimated that between 6.2 and 7.3 million people in the U.S. had symptomatic influenza from October 1, 2018, through January 5, 2019. This led to some 2.9 to 3.5 million medical visits and 69,300 to 83,500 hospitalizations. The agency noted that this is the first time it's reported in-season estimates, so the numbers can't be used to evaluate how this season compares with prior seasons.
There was no data on the estimated number of related deaths given by the CDC. All the vaccines noted are administered through a shot. There was no data on the nasal vaccine.
Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV)is a type of influenza vaccine in the form of a nasal spray that is recommended for the prevention of influenza. In June 2016, the CDC stopped recommending the use of LAIV as its effectiveness has appeared to have decreased between 2013 and 2016, but this recommendation was reversed in February 2018 for the 2018-2019 influenza season. This is the official stand of the CDC.
The truth is that the effectiveness of the LAIV vaccine never decreased. The nasal vaccine has always been as effective as any of the shots. The data was altered to show a loss of effectiveness and later admitted (or uncovered) resulting in a reversal by the CDC.
As you know, I am not a fan of the flu vaccine. That is my personal choice based on reviewing the literature. However, if you want to receive the vaccine, consider the LAIV. Not because it’s less expensive or easier to administer – nasal spray versus shot. Or because you (or your children) avoid the trauma of a shot. But because it is a more natural route that supports your immune system rather than going around it.
Almost all infection enters the body through the oral or nasal passage. (Clostridium tetani (tetanus) is the only one I can think of that naturally enters through a puncture wound.) Upon entering the digestive tract, the virus is exposed to the GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue). This is the first line of immune defense, containing 75% of all the lymph tissue in the body. The GALT analyses the infection and sends data to the thymus for an appropriate immune response.
When you inject a vaccine into a muscle, you effectively bypass the GALT and stimulate the secondary immune system – cellular immunity. Sure, it may prevent the flu, but at what cost to your immune system? Those questions are being asked by a few, but the answers are years away.
Having a flu shot is a personal health decision. Discuss it with your PCP, do some research and consider the nasal mist as an alternative to the traditional flu shot.
Source: January 14, 2019 New England Journal of Medicine