Most children and adults I know prefer the intranasal, aerosolized form of the influenza vaccine (FluMist) over the old-fashioned injectable kind because… well… it doesn’t hurt! And it works great, too! Kids like it so much, I often hear: “I wish all my vaccines were like that!” I challenge them: “Maybe you will be the one to invent the pain-free vaccines of the future — after you finish college, of course.”

A study of over 2,000 Indian babies, published in last week’s New England Journal of Medicine, compared injectable measles vaccine with a new, aerosolized version sprayed in the nose, and found the tried-and-tested method of subcutaneous injection to be superior. The results, says Maureen Salamon, mean that the inventors of the new vaccine will need to go back to the drawing board:

Vaccine experts said the trial, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, showed that the injected measles vaccine — the prevailing version in the United States — should remain the gold standard. The vaccine typically is administered in combination with other vaccines for mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox), known as the MMR or MMRV vaccines.

“This was a study of the delivery mechanism more than the vaccine, and I think it says that giving it by shot is better than the inhaled version,” said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, director of the Vaccine Research Center at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

“Whatever advantages there were to the inhaled vaccine are negated by the [children’s] immune response to the injected version,” added Bromberg, who wasn’t involved in the research.


The challenge continues…