Flu shot vs. Flu nasal spray

Flu season is quickly approaching. Some years the season kicks off as early as October, lasting for many
months…at times well into May. The CDC recommends that all individuals over the age of 6 months be
vaccinated and as people start making preparations, the question these days for most individuals will
not be “should I or should I not be vaccinated?”, but rather “HOW will I be vaccinated?”. In 2003, the
FDA approved FluMist, the first intranasal flu vaccine. Both the flu shot and the flu nasal spray protect
individuals from various strains of the flu virus so when in the case of receiving one over the other…it truly
is matter of a patient’s eligibility. So which one is right for YOU? Here’s a short rundown:

The Flu Shot

  • The flu shot is composed dead strains of flu viruses that are expected to be common during the upcoming flu season. It is normally given as an injection in the upper arm.
  • Treatment is for adults and children ages 6 months and up (Please visithttp://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flushot.htm for a complete list of those that should not receive a flu shot)
  • The side effects are normally minimal; slight soreness at the injection site is common

The Flu Nasal Spray (FluMist)

  • FluMist is a live, weakened strain of the flu virus given as a mist into each nostril of the nose
  • As a rule of thumb, generally healthy individuals between the ages 2 and 49 may receive FluMist (please visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/nasalspray.htm for a complete list of those that should not receive FluMist)
  • Some children may require two dosages
  • Side effects again are minimal, but may be more complex than those of a traditional flu shot.
    Some side effects may include runny nose and headaches as well as fever in children.

It should be noted that you CANNOT get the flu from either vaccine method. It takes roughly two weeks
for one to build immunity after being vaccinated so a number of variables may come into play such as
other viral infections that mimic flu-like symptoms or exposure to an influenza virus post vaccination but
prior to immunity.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns, call your primary care provider.