Patients getting conflicting recommendations between flu shots or nasal spray

As fall gets underway and people plan out all their fun activities in the shifting weather, doctors are hoping patients are thinking about getting vaccinated for the flu.

However, there's controversy over whether the flu shot or nasal spray is the best option, based on conflicted recommendations from two trusted organizations.

Needham resident Stacey Klein said her family's pediatrician recently stopped carrying the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine, due to the spray not being as effective as the shot in previous flu seasons.

"I think just knowing what has in the past been the most effective," Klein said.

Her daughter Chelsea, a third grader, knows it's important to get the flu shot, fighting through the pain.

"It's the whole arm, then it's here, then it's here, then it's here," Chelsea Klein said.

Now, it's hard to find the spray this year at many local doctors' offices, urgent care facilities and hospitals.

This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a recommendation, advising that the shot is their first choice over the nasal spray.

Dr. Paul Sax, the clinical director of Brigham and Women's Hospital's Infectious Disease Division, said the recommendation comes based on their evaluation of previous flu seasons.

"Based on previous years, they think the shot is more likely to be effective than the spray," Sax said.

The effectiveness of the spray won't be known until flu season has hit in December or January.

Regardless, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending either the shot or the spray, stressing that any form of protection is better than none.

>>RELATED: CDC reminds everyone who can to get a flu shot this year

In the end, some local doctors are still agreeing that the shot is the way to go.

"We tend to prefer the shot, just because we're more confident in its efficiency," Jim Bell said.

Sax also had a similar thought

"My own recommendation would be, in general, it's better to go with the shot," Sax said. "Unless your child is very afraid of needles and the only way you're going to be able to get them to do the flu vaccine is if they do the nasal spray."

While the American Academy of Pediatrics says the shot is their first choice, they support giving children the nasal spray vaccine if a child has a real fear of shots, or if a doctor's office runs out of the shot.