Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Seasonal Flu Shot and Nasal Spray

Each year during flu season, at least one in every 20 people in the U.S. will come down with influenza or flu. Some years, that number can be as high as one in every five. For most of us, getting the flu means several days of feeling pretty miserable. Headaches, body aches, fever, chills, fatigue, and exhaustion are all part of the disease running its course. But then most people recover on their own.

But there are some people -- primarily young children, older adults, and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma -- who are at higher risk of seasonal flu-related complications. Each year, influenza-related illnesses are responsible for the hospitalization of 200,000 people and the death of 3,000 to 49,000 people.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, to children and teens. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

The flu is caused by influenza viruses that are highly contagious. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself against seasonal flu, and the primary way to prevent it is to get an annual vaccination.

This article explains what you need to know about the seasonal flu vaccine.

Can Getting the Seasonal Flu Vaccine Cause the Flu?

There are actually two kinds of vaccines: One is given as a shot (an injection) and one is given as a nasal spray. The shot contains dead influenza viruses -- up to four different strains. The nasal spray is made with live viruses that have been weakened. Neither vaccine causes flu illness (although the nasal spray can result in congestion and runny nose). The strains of influenza virus within the vaccines are chosen each year based on what scientists predict will be the circulating viruses for the flu season. Both types of vaccine cause the body's immune system to create antibodies that will ward off influenza virus if it invades your body.

The nasal spray can be given to healthy, non-pregnant individuals ages 2 to 49. In fact, the CDC now recommends the nasal spray vaccine for healthy children 2 through 8 years old when it is available. It should not be given to anyone with a chronic condition or weak immune system. That would include an illness that affects the immune system and people being treated with drugs or therapies that suppress the immune system. If you have any question about whether you or your child can use the nasal spray vaccine, talk with your doctor.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Baby getting vaccinated
Is there a link? Get the facts.
syringes and graph illustration
Get a customized vaccine schedule.
baby getting a vaccine
Know the benefits and the risk
nurse holding syringe in front of girl
Should your child have it?

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
gloved hand holding syringe
infant receiving injection

WebMD Special Sections