by Wood D

FluMist: A Painless Option to the Annual Flu Shot

HCA image The flu impacts many people each year. One of the best ways to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people older than six months get vaccinated against influenza. Two types of vaccines exist. One type is the flu shot vaccine and the other type is the nasal spray flu vaccine called FluMist.

Know Your Options

The traditional flu shot is made with an inactivated or killed virus, which stimulates the body’s immune system to fight off the flu. The FluMist vaccine, on the other hand, is made with a modified live virus. The body builds up immunity as the virus reproduces in the nasal passages.

A Choice for Healthy People

FluMist was developed with healthy adults and children in mind. It is safe and effective for healthy people aged 2-49 years old.
FluMist is not recommended for:
  • Adults aged 50 years and older
  • Children younger than 24 months
  • Children aged less than 5 years who have asthma or episodes of wheezing in the last year
  • Children or teens on long-term aspirin therapy
  • Pregnant women
  • People with:
    • Chronic conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, asthma, kidney disease, liver disease, metabolic disease, and blood disorders
    • Nerve or muscle disorders
    • Weakened immune systems
  • People in close contact with others who have a weakened immune system
Before getting the nasal spray vaccine, talk to your doctor if you:
  • Have severe, life-threatening allergies, including an allergy to eggs
  • Have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine
  • Have had Guillain–Barré syndrome
  • Currently have a cold
  • Received a vaccine in the past 4 weeks

If You Get the Nasal Spray Vaccine

While the nasal spray does contain a modified flu virus, it will not cause you to get the flu. FluMist, though, may cause some mild flu-like side effects, such as:
  • In children and teens:
    • Cold symptoms such as fever, runny nose, congestion, cough, headache
    • Muscle aches
    • Wheezing
    • Stomach pain—may have vomiting or diarrhea
  • In adults:
    • Cold symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, cough, sore throat, headache
    • Fatigue
    • Chills
Life-threatening allergic reactions are a rare side effect.

Be Prepared

Ask your doctor which vaccine is best for you and your loved ones. Don’t wait until the flu is in high gear! Make the move to protect yourself. Remember that it takes about two weeks for the FluMist to protect your body. But the vaccine will last for about a year.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada


Baker CJ, Pickerling LK, Chilton L, et al; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, 2011. Ann Intern Med. 2011;154(3):168-173.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years —United States, 2011. MMWR 2011;60(5).
FluMist. FluMist website. Available at: Accessed March 3, 2014.
Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated November 7, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2014.
Live, intranasal influenza 2011-12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated July 26, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2014.

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