LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
NPR's Richard Knox explains.
RICHARD KNOX: Flu expert Arnold Monto of the University of Michigan thought FluMist would be at least as good or better than conventional flu shots in adults, but his group's new study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine shows the nasal spray vaccine is not as good as the shot in the arm type.
ARNOLD MONTO: If you are vaccinated with the injected vaccine, you have about a 70 percent chance of preventing influenza. With a nasal spray vaccine you're not going to get quite as much protection if you're an adult.
KNOX: In fact, only half as much protection as conventional flu shots. But that's with seasonal flu. With the new pandemic flu virus circulating this fall, Monto says FluMist might be just as good at protecting younger adults. The nasal spray vaccine is approved for people up to age 50.
MONTO: In terms of the pandemic H1N1 virus, most of the population are just like children, they have not been exposed previously to this virus and therefore, it's likely that the nasal spray will work perfectly well.
KNOX: Monto says if he had the choice, he'd probably opt for getting an ordinary flu shot, but FluMist will be the first pandemic flu vaccine in clinics in doctors offices, possibly as soon as next week. And the pandemic virus is already circulating in all 50 states.
MONTO: So there is a clear threat and a reason not to delay getting vaccinated once the vaccine is available.
KNOX: Richard Knox, NPR News.
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