In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against utilizing FluMist, intranasal influenza virus vaccine, due of its ineffectiveness. Some school systems, including Anne Arundel and Harford counties, decided it in the students’ best interest to scale back or cancel vaccination clinics. School officials believed the students would deal with the flu shot better, if their parents were present to comfort them.
This move drew some controversy among health advocates, who stress the risks of allowing children to go unvaccinated. Thousands of people living in the United States die each year during flu season due to complications of the influenza virus. Flu season typically runs from October through May.
Between 2010 and 2014, the influenza virus claimed the lives of 358 children, according to the CDC. The influenza vaccine is capable of decreasing the risk of death by 65 percent. The agency continues to recommend vaccination for everyone over the age of 6 months.
AstraZeneca, makers of FluMist, say there are working on improving the effectiveness of the drug. However, school systems are not backing down and will offer shots to its students again this year.
Maryland is estimating that nearly 70,000 students will be vaccinated this year. While the numbers are up, they are still fewer than when the nasal mist was available. In the past few years, schools successfully vaccinated approximately 100,000 children, which is only a quarter of the students in Maryland. Local health departments, pharmacies and physicians vaccinated some of the children.
The death of Kayla Linton, 17, has prompted officials to push for vaccination of students. Linton was a student at Lansdowne High School, when she died of influenza in January.