A nasal spray flu vaccine has shown to be a safe and effective means of protecting against the influenza virus in children, according to an on-going study. Researchers are beginning the fourth year of a six-year nasal-flu vaccine study in Temple, Texas that will involve immunizing 15,000 children. After vaccination, the illness rates are then compared to those in surrounding areas, including Bryan-College Station, Austin and Waco. Findings showed that vaccine recipients had no increased risk for getting any acute respiratory illness in the first two weeks following vaccination. The pivotal trial in pre-school children found the vaccine to be 91 percent effective in preventing culture-positive illness, and this data still stands. In school age children, the vaccine is showing 75-85 percent protection against influenza. ‘We are giving the vaccine at a time when several other respiratory viruses are circulating,’ said Dr. William P. Glezen, a professor in the department of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor.’ These findings will provide basis for what should be expected for the up-coming season.’ People living in Temple between the ages of 18 months and 18 years were vaccinated. Participants were given the vaccine over a period of three to four months, with the dosing evenly distributed over the period. Medical records of the Temple children were examined in order for researchers to better understand individual illness experiences. This enabled them to complete the analysis and control the study for the children’s ages and time of the season. Children with severe asthma were excluded, however children with mild intermittent asthma could participate. ‘Children who had a history of mild asthma were no more likely to have wheezing, bronchitis, pneumonia or any other respiratory illness in the 14-day follow-up prior to vaccine or in the period less than 15 days after the vaccine,’ said Glezen, also head of the preventative medicine section in the department of pediatrics at Baylor. Flu season begins in November and lasts through March, so now is a good time to get a flu shot, particularly if you fall into a high-risk category. This includes people over age 65, people with heart and lung disease, kidney failure, AIDS, cancer, health-care workers and children on long-term aspirin treatment. The nasal spray, FluMist’, was developed by Aviron, a biotechnology company in Mountain View, Calif., in cooperative agreement with the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), who is funding the Temple study. Other collaborators in the study include Dr. Pedro Piedra, Baylor College of Medicine and Dr. Manju Gaglani, principal investigator at the Scott & White Clinic in Temple.