“Wash, shield, and repeat” summarily covers the Palmetto Health Children's Hospital’s straightforward instructions for avoiding illness during flu season this year, with one curious addition: it does not recommend using the nasal spray flu vaccine.
Based on overall results observed, hospital staff instead suggests the continued practice of annual flu vaccinations in the traditional delivery system of injection for all individuals over the age of 6 months.
Dr. Anna-Kathryn Rye Burch, an infectious disease specialist with Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, emphasized that the facility does not intend to discourage people from obtaining the vaccine; rather, the nasal spray form has not been demonstrated to be effective.
“The reason is because the flu mist is believed to have been less effective than the shots in preventing the flu during the past several seasons,” Burch said. “The manufacturers are working this year to get it effective and ready for next year. The CDC conducts … studies each season to estimate flu vaccine effectiveness.”
To prevent flu through everyday hygiene practice, the hospital recommends washing hands often and well; covering one’s nose and mouth with a tissue during a cough or sneeze, then disposing of the tissue; and avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth, a well-known way for germs to spread.
Burch added that vaccination is vital to avoid spreading a contagious illness such as influenza. When a substantial number of residents are immunized, the community at large is better protected as the chances of an outbreak are reduced. Even individuals who don’t get the vaccine do better due to what is called “herd immunity.”
“When parents opt out of having their children vaccinated, that sets the stage for disease rates to rise. If it were not for vaccines, we would see many more cases of infectious diseases,” Burch said.
7 Medical Park Rd
Columbia, SC 29203