healthy people ages 2 through 49 years can choose to get the
nasal spray form(What is a PDF document?) of the vaccine (such as FluMist) instead of the flu shot. The nasal
spray vaccine contains components of live viruses, so it should not be given to
people who have certain long-term (chronic) health conditions, such as heart or
lung problems. Close contacts of these people in high-risk categories can be
given either type of vaccine, with one rare exception. Immunization with the
inactivated virus (flu shot) is preferred over the nasal spray vaccine for
close contacts of people with severely
impaired immune systems during times when a protected
environment is needed. This avoids the risk of transmitting an active flu virus
from the nasal spray vaccine. If the nasal spray vaccine is used, contact with
anyone in this high-risk group should be avoided for 7 days. For close contacts
of people in all other high-risk categories, vaccination with either the flu
shot or the nasal spray is considered safe.
You should not
get the nasal spray if you:
Have heart disease.
diabetes or kidney disease.
Have a disease
or take a medicine that causes problems with your
Have a condition (such as a seizure disorder or cerebral palsy) that can cause breathing or swallowing problems.
Are younger than age 20 and you take aspirin or products with
aspirin in them.
Even if a flu vaccine does not prevent the
flu, it can reduce the severity of flu symptoms and decrease the risk
of complications. Studies have found that the flu shot
results in fewer days missed from work and fewer visits to a doctor for
respiratory infections, and it reduces the number of people who develop
complications from the flu, such as
pneumonia.2 And the flu vaccine can help protect the babies of women who got the vaccine while they were pregnant.3, 4
spite of these results, many people choose not to get a flu vaccine. Some do not
get the vaccine because of
myths they believe about the flu or the vaccines. These include beliefs that the flu is a minor illness or that the vaccine causes the flu. The
shot may cause
side effects, such as soreness or fever, but they are usually
minor and do not last long. And a type of flu shot (Fluzone Intradermal) is available that uses a much smaller needle than a regular flu shot. Also, it is injected into the skin instead of into a muscle. This usually causes less discomfort at the time of the shot. People 18 to 64 years old can get this shot. But it may not be available everywhere.