The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine is Back! What You Need to Know
With flu season upon us, it’s time to start thinking about getting vaccinated – but there’s good news for those who dread getting flu shots! After a two year pause, the CDC is once again recommending the nasal spray flu vaccine this flu season. Before you decide between the needle and the nasal spray, here are four key facts about the nasal spray flu vaccine to keep in mind.
How It Works
All flu vaccines serve the same purpose: to strengthen your body’s defenses against the flu. Using a weakened version of the flu virus that won’t make you sick, the nasal spray vaccine helps your immune system create flu-germ-fighting antibodies. These antibodies help protect you from serious illness when you are exposed to flu germs.
Why It’s Back
For the past two flu seasons, the CDC did not recommend the nasal spray flu vaccine because studies showed it was not very effective against one type of the flu virus – the H1N1 type –in children ages two through 17. This year, the nasal spray’s formula has been updated to provide better protection against H1N1, and the CDC has predicted that the new formula will make the vaccine more effective.
What Side Effects It May Cause
You can’t catch the flu from any form of the flu vaccine, but you may experience some of these mild symptoms after you are vaccinated with the nasal spray:
Who Is Eligible
In general, the nasal spray is suitable for healthy people ages two through 49, but the nasal spray is not right for everyone. People who should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine include:
- Children under two years of age.
- Adults 50 years of age and older.
- Women who are pregnant.
- Anyone who has ever had a reaction to a vaccine.
- Anyone with a weakened immune system.
- Caretakers of people with weakened immune systems.
- Children ages two to four years old with asthma or asthmatic symptoms.
There may be other reasons to avoid the nasal spray, so be sure to speak with your health care provider about what’s right for you and your family.
Even if the nasal spray doesn’t suit your health needs, you likely still eligible for the flu shot. It’s important to remember that in many cases, people who may safely get the flu shot include:
- Women who are pregnant.
- Children who are older than six months old.
- The elderly.
- Individuals with weakened immune systems.
No matter which option you choose, getting vaccinated is extremely important for protecting your family. The flu can be life-threatening for all of your family members, but it is especially dangerous for the elderly and young children. As you make decisions about vaccines for your family, be sure to reach out to your health care provider for expert guidance on choosing the right option for you.
About the Author
Talia Aron, MD practices Family Medicine at LeBauer Healthcare at Stoney Creek