When it comes to the flu vaccine, the question for almost everyone shouldn't be if you should get it, but how you should get it.
There are two options: the flu shot and the nasal spray FluMist. Most years, both offer about the same level of protection, but some people are better suited for the shot, while others do better with the spray.
Also, recommendations on how to get the flu vaccine can change from year to year. Experts don’t recommend the nasal spray for the 2017-2018 flu season in the U.S. because of issues with the spray’s ability to protect against the most common flu strains that sicken Americans. The spray also wasn’t recommended in the 2016-2017 flu season. Researchers are working to fix that problem, but it’s not clear when the nasal spray will again be approved for use in the U.S.
The bottom line? Your doctor will let you know which type is better for you.
The Flu Shot
This vaccine is usually injected into your upper arm. It's made from dead influenza virus and can't give you the flu.
Side effects: They're usually minor and only last a day or two. The most common one is soreness in the arm. Less common symptoms are mild fever and achiness.
Who can get the flu shot: Adults and children ages 6 months and up
Who shouldn't get the flu shot:
- Babies less than 6 months old
- Anyone who got Guillain-Barre syndrome (when your body’s immune system attacks your nerves) within 6 weeks of getting a flu vaccine
- People with life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in the vaccine
You may have heard that people with allergies to eggs shouldn't get the flu shot. But the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says the vaccine has such a low amount of egg protein that it's unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. If you have a severe egg allergy, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first. There are flu vaccines that have no egg protein.
Other flu shot options are: