AstraZeneca, a leading pharmaceutical company, is seeking FDA approval for its nasal flu vaccine, FluMist, to be self-administered at home. This groundbreaking move could make FluMist the first ever self-administered vaccine. The supplemental license application specifically requests approval for use in ages 2-49 at home, expanding access and convenience for a wider range of individuals.
FluMist has been available for 20 years, but until now, it has only been administered in pharmacy or clinical settings. However, if the FDA gives its approval, adults 18 and older would be allowed to self-administer the vaccine and even give it to children aged 2-17. This move is influenced by the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, where people easily handled nasal swabs for testing.
To ensure the vaccine is used correctly, the single-use nasal syringe will be slightly different from nasal spray medications and will come with specific instructions. Additionally, AstraZeneca will need to ensure the vaccine stays at a certain temperature during shipping to patients. The company plans to allow customers to order FluMist through a website or online pharmacy partner and ensure proper temperature control during shipping.
The decision from the FDA is expected to be announced by the first quarter of 2024. If approved, this new method of self-administration could potentially increase flu vaccine uptake, which has historically been low during annual seasons, despite the vaccine’s efficacy in reducing the impact of the disease.
Moreover, this move opens the door for the potential development of other intranasally delivered vaccines. For instance, AstraZeneca is exploring the possibility of developing a live attenuated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for COVID-19, which can also be administered intranasally. Intranasal delivery is especially ideal for respiratory diseases, as they typically enter the body through the nose.
With AstraZeneca’s pursuit of FDA approval for self-administered FluMist, the vaccine landscape could be revolutionized. This advancement not only offers increased convenience and accessibility but also sets the stage for the development of future intranasal vaccines, potentially transforming the way we protect ourselves against respiratory diseases.
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