The flu strikes many people each year, and one of the best ways to prevent the flu is getting vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people older than six months get vaccinated against influenza. Two types of vaccines exist. One type is the flu shot vaccine and the other type is the nasal spray flu vaccine called FluMist.
The traditional flu shot is made with an inactivated or killed virus, which stimulates the body’s immune system to fight off the flu bug.
The FluMist vaccine, on the other hand, is made with a modified live virus. The body builds up immunity as the virus reproduces in the nasal passages.
FluMist was developed with healthy adults and children in mind. It is safe and effective for healthy people aged 2-49 years old.
FluMist is not recommended for: Adults aged 50 years and olderChildren younger than 24 monthsChildren aged less than 5 years who have asthma or episodes of wheezing in the last yearChildren or teens on long-term aspirin therapyPregnant womenPeople with: Chronic conditions (eg, heart disease, lung disease, asthma, kidney disease, liver disease, metabolic disease, blood disorders)Nerve or muscle disordersWeakened immune systemsPeople in close contact with others who have a weakened immune system
Before getting the nasal spray vaccine, talk to your doctor if you: Have severe (life-threatening) allergies, including an allergy to eggsHave had a severe reaction to the flu vaccineHave had Guillain–Barré syndromeCurrently have a coldReceived a vaccine in the past 4 weeks
While the nasal spray does contain a modified flu virus, it will not cause you to get the flu. FluMist, though, may cause some mild side effects, such as: In children and teens: Cold symptoms (eg, fever, runny nose, congestion, cough, headache)Muscle achesWheezingStomach pain (may have vomiting or diarrhea)In adults: Cold symptoms (eg, runny nose, congestion, cough, sore throat, headache)FatigueChills
Life-threatening allergic reactions are a rare side effect.
Ask your doctor which vaccine is best for you and your loved ones. Don’t wait until the flu is in high gear! Make the move to protect yourself. Remember that it takes about two weeks for the FluMist to protect your body. But the vaccine will last for about a year.
Baker CJ, Pickerling LK, Chilton L, et al; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, 2011. Ann Intern Med. 2011;154(3):168-173.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years —United States, 2011. MMWR 2011;60(5).
Last reviewed May 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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