How the Nasal Flu Vaccine FluMist Works

The nasal flu vaccine, most commonly referred to as Flumist, can be a great option for people who would like a flu shot. It is good for healthy adults and adolescents when there is a shortage of the traditional, injected vaccine or if you just prefer a nasal spray flu vaccine over an injection.

FluMist Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
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FluMist is approved for healthy people ages 2 to 49 with no significant medical problems.

People who should not take nasal flu vaccine include:

  • Children under 2 years old
  • Adults 50 years or older
  • Anyone with asthma, reactive airway disease (RAD) or a history of recurrent wheezing
  • Anyone with chronic health conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Those who care for people with severely compromised immune systems (such as someone who has recently had a hematopoietic stem cell transplant)
  • Pregnant women
  • Anyone with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Children or adolescents taking aspirin

You should be aware of some differences between the nasal flu vaccine and the traditional, injected flu vaccine.

Injected Vaccine

The injected flu vaccine is made from a killed influenza virus and does not cause flu symptoms. The most common side effects from the injected vaccine are soreness at the injection site and feeling tired.

Nasal Vaccine

The nasal flu vaccine is made from several different types of weakened live influenza viruses. People vaccinated with this type of vaccine are more likely to have minor flu-like symptoms. You may experience a slight fever, tiredness or achiness, and possible minor upper respiratory problems. These side effects should disappear within a few days.

If you have a child under the age of 9 who will be getting the nasal flu vaccine this year and it is the first time he has had a flu vaccination of any kind (or if last year was his first flu vaccination, but he only received one dose), he will have to have two vaccinations this year. The vaccinations must be given at least six weeks apart.

If you feel like the nasal flu vaccine may be right for you, talk to your doctor about getting it this flu season.

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