You may hear it called by its brand name, FluMist. Unlike the flu shot, there are no needles involved. That’s a good thing, especially to parents whose kids can’t stand the sight of needles.
While the normal flu shot you’d get in your arm is made from killed flu viruses, the spray is made from weakened live viruses. It reproduces inside your nose and creates germs that your immune system learns to attack. It's unclear whether the flu shot or the nasal spray works better.
When Gina Gallo, a school librarian in Lacombe, La., gets sick, she can take care of herself. She gets her own medicine, makes her own food, and "deals with it," as she puts it. But when her fiancé gets a cold, she says he has "a complete system breakdown."
"The world stops and the whining is incessant," she says. "I am expected to bring him food, take care of him, and generally treat him like the baby that he is."
Gallo's fiancé declined to talk with WebMD for this story. Their Mars-Venus situation...
The spray causes your immune system to make proteins in your blood and in your nose that help you fight the virus. Your nose is where the flu virus normally enters your body.
How Do You Take It?
A doctor will spray the vaccine into your nostrils with a small syringe that has no needle. It takes about 2 weeks for it to start to work, so you should get it anytime from September to mid-November.
Is It Safe for Everyone?
No. It’s OK to get it if you’re healthy, between the ages 2 to 49, and not pregnant. Adults should get one dose of the vaccine per year. Kids 2 to 9 who are getting their first fluvaccine will need a second dose 4 weeks later. The first isn't enough to prevent the flu -- two doses will. Every year after that, your child will need only one dose.