US approves nasal spray flu vaccine for young kids

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WASHINGTON, Sep 19 (Reuters) US health officials said today they approved the Flumist nasal spray influenza vaccine for children between ages two and five.

Flumist is made by MedImmune Inc, which was recently acquired by AstraZeneca.

Previously, the vaccine was approved only for healthy children age five and older and adults up to age 49.

The approval ''offers parents and health professionals a needle-free option for squeamish toddlers, who may be reluctant to get a traditional influenza shot,'' said Dr Jesse Goodman, head of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Children under two should not receive Flumist because there was an increased risk of hospitalization and wheezing in that age group during MedImmune's clinical trials, the FDA said.

Flumist also should not be given to anyone with asthma or to children under five with recurrent wheezing, the agency said.

Side effects from Flumist were generally mild and most often included runny nose, nasal congestion or a slight fever in children two to six years old, the FDA said.

REUTERS GL BD2114

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