Flumist Vs A Flu Shot
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Every child should have an annual flu shot to keep them safe during flu season. However, despite the fact that flu vaccination helps kids avoid getting sick, not all eligible kids get a flu vaccine.
One reason is vaccine hesitancy, which is often rooted in misconceptions about the importance or safety of this immunization for children. Another is that most kids don’t like to get a flu shotor any shot, which can make for an unpleasant doctor visit.
Of course, the health of your child is worth them enduring a flu shot. However, a shot is not the only way to get vaccinated against the flu. The FluMist nasal spray flu vaccine is another effective option, providing protection without any ouch.
Both the traditional flu shot and FluMist offer robust protection against getting sick and spreading the flu to loved onesand the larger community. Here’s what you need to know about the flu shot and FluMist to help you decide which one is best for your child.
Flumist And Other Vaccines
Heres some information on whether FluMist can be given at the same time as other vaccines.
FluMist is a live vaccine. This means that FluMist has live flu viruses in it that have been changed so that they shouldnt infect you with the flu. Inactive vaccines, on the other hand, dont have live viruses in them.
FluMist and inactive vaccines
FluMist hasnt been studied when given with inactive vaccines.
Examples of inactive vaccines include:
If you plan to get FluMist and think you need an inactive vaccine, ask your doctor when the best time is to get them.
FluMist and other live vaccines
FluMist is a live vaccine. It has been studied when given with other live vaccines.
One study looked at children ages 12 to 15 months. They received FluMist alone or FluMist with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and chickenpox vaccines. There was no difference in how the childrens bodies reacted to the vaccines in either group. However, its important to note that FluMist isnt approved for use in children ages 12 to 15 months. The vaccine is approved to be used only in children and adults ages 2 through 49 years.
Examples of other live vaccines include:
Why The Flu Vaccine Is Important
The flu vaccine has been proven to reduce the risk of death, hospitalization, health complications, and illness from the flu. Those that get vaccinated but still contract the flu are likely to have less severe symptoms. Vaccination results in fewer school days missed and limits the spread of the illness among family members.
Most kids who get the flu don’t get seriously ill, but some do. Even some otherwise healthy children can have serious complications from flu. And every year, some children die from the flu.
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Drug Forms And Administration
FluMist comes as a nasal spray that a healthcare provider or pharmacist will spray into your nose.
Fluzone comes as a suspension thats given as an injection into your muscle. This is called an intramuscular injection.
Both FluMist and Fluzone are usually given once a year, but in some cases, children might need two doses spaced out by a few weeks.
Is The Nasal Spray As Effective As The Shot
The short answer: Yes, its expected to be, according to the CDC, which isnt placing preference on any single vaccine.
Flu season runs from October until May, peaking in January and February. Right now, its early in the flu season and health professionals have just started tracking flu cases and the types of strains that are most common, Illuzzi explains.
The CDC and local departments of health keep track of this information and report it back to clinicians on a weekly basis, he says. The preliminary results seem promising that this years flu vaccines appear to be a good match.
The monitoring is done by the CDCS U.S. Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Network, and similar studies are conducted in the United Kingdom, Canada and Finland, explains Dr. Chris Ambrose, franchise head with U.S. Medical Affairs, respiratory division at AstraZeneca, the maker of the FluMist Quadrivalent. The CDC provides vaccine estimates several times throughout the season, and typically early estimates are reported in February and the full season estimates come in June, Ambrose says.
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Flu Shot Vs Nasal Spray: Which Vaccine Is Better This Year
The messaging couldnt be more clear: Everyone who is over the age of 6 months and able should get the flu vaccine this year. But while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials have stressed the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu this fall, there hasnt been a lot of discussion about which kind to get.
There are several types of flu vaccines, but they can generally be grouped into two categories: the shot and the nasal spray. Each is slightly different, and its understandable to have questions about which is right for you. Heres what you need to know.
What is the difference between the flu shot and the nasal spray vaccine?
There are actually several. At a very basic level, the flu shot is given with a needle in your arm while the nasal spray vaccine is misted into your nose. But the differences dont end there.
The flu shot uses an inactivated version of the flu to stimulate your immune system, while the nasal spray vaccine uses an attenuated live virus, the CDC explains. While both vaccines may cause flu-like side effects, neither vaccine can actually give you the flu, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life.
There are different forms of the flu shot, but many people under the age of 65 will receive the quadrivalent flu shot. Thats designed to protect against the following strains, per the CDC:
Who Should Have The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:
- children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2021 born between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2019
- all primary school children
- all year 7 to year 11 children in secondary school
- children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions
If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they’ll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years.
The nasal spray vaccine offers the best protection for children aged 2 to 17 years. They will be offered the flu vaccine injection if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them.
Some children will be offered the injected flu vaccine if they have:
- a severely weakened immune system
- asthma that’s being treated with steroid tablets or that has needed intensive care in hospital
- a flare-up of asthma symptoms and need to use a reliever inhaler more than usual
- had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past
- a condition that needs salicylate treatment
If you’re not sure, check with the school immunisation team, the nurse or GP at your surgery, or a hospital specialist.
The injected flu vaccine is given as a single injection into the muscle of the upper arm, or the thigh for children under 1 year.
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Flu Vaccine And Covid
The nasal spray flu vaccine does not protect your child from COVID-19.
Children aged 12 years and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine.
As a precaution, children aged 5 to 11 years should wait at least 2 weeks between getting their COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine.
Safety And Side Effects
Side effects associated with the vaccine are:
- runny or stuffy nose
- high temperature
- nose bleeds
- allergic reactions
Additional information about vaccine side effects, anaphylaxis and adverse reactions can be found here.
There is no evidence that healthy unvaccinated people can catch flu from the nasal flu spray .
It is known that vaccinated children shed the virus for a few days after vaccination . However, the vaccine virus is weakened, and so it is much less able to spread from person to person than flu viruses that circulate during the flu season, and it cannot grow inside the body. The amount of virus that children shed is normally below the levels needed to pass on infection to others. The virus does not survive for long outside the body.
It is therefore not necessary for children to be excluded from school during the period when the vaccine is being given. The only exception is the very small number of children who are extremely immunocompromised . These children are usually advised not to attend school anyway, because of the higher risk of being in contact with infections that circulate in schools.
The nasal flu spray should not be given to anyone who is severely immunodeficient due to a medical condition or treatment with an immunosuppressive therapy such as:
This is because the weakened viruses in the vaccine could replicate too much and cause infection.
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Effectiveness Of The Nasal Spray Vaccine
The American Academy of Pediatrics did not recommend the nasal spray during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 flu seasons because it didn’t work as well against the A/H1N1 viral strain, but with changes in the formulation of the spray vaccine, the CDC is recommending any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine with no preference for any one vaccine over another in 2021-2022 flu season.
What Else Should I Know
Some things might prevent a person from getting the flu vaccine. Talk to your doctor to see if the vaccine is still recommended if your child:
- has ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccination
- has had Guillain-Barré syndrome
Egg Allergy and the Flu Vaccine
In the past, people with an egg allergy had to check with their doctor about whether the flu vaccine was OK for them because it’s grown inside eggs. But health experts now say that the amount of egg protein in the vaccine is so tiny that it’s safe even for kids with a severe egg allergy. This is especially important during a severe flu season.
Still, a child with an egg allergy should get the flu vaccine in a doctor’s office, not at a supermarket, drugstore, or other venue.
Getting a Flu Vaccine During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The flu season seemed milder during the COVID-19 pandemic, as fewer people got infected or were hospitalized with the flu. This was probably tied to public health measures that protected against coronavirus, as they also protect against the flu. These included wearing masks in public, social distancing, and less travel. Increased flu vaccination rates also might have helped. If these precautions happen less, the rate of flu infections will go back up, so it’s still important to get a flu vaccine each year. People can get a flu vaccine at the same time they get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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How Effective Is The Nasal Flu Vaccine
The effectiveness of any flu vaccine varies from year to year, but the nasal flu vaccine is considered comparable to the flu shot, Dr. Adalja says.
There have been questions of the efficacy of the nasal flu vaccine for certain influenza types such as H1N1 in the past, but thats been addressed, says Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York.
The CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices does not show a preference for any type of flu vaccine over another this year, provided you meet the right qualifications.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of The Flu Vaccine
Both types of vaccine can cause mild side effects.
- The flu shot usually is given as an injection in the upper arm or thigh . It contains killed flu virus and can’t cause someone to get the flu. But it can cause soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Rarely, it might cause a low fever or body aches.
- The nasal spray flu vaccine contains weakened live flu viruses. So it may cause mild symptoms, such as a runny nose, wheezing, sore throat, vomiting, or tiredness. Like the shot, it can sometimes cause a low fever or body aches.
Sometimes, people faint after getting a shot, especially teens. It helps to sit or lie down for 15 minutes right after a shot to prevent this.
A warm, damp cloth or a heating pad on the injection site may help ease soreness, as can moving or using the arm.
Very rarely, the flu vaccine can cause a serious allergic reaction.
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Are There Some People Who Should Not Get A Flu Vaccine
People who should not get a flu shot include:
- Infants under age 6 months
- Anyone who has had a severe reaction to a past flu shot or nasal spray
- Someone with Guillain-Barre syndrome or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- People with moderate to severe illness with a fever they should be vaccinated after they have recovered.
It’s long been advised that people with allergies to eggs should not get the flu shot. However, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says the vaccine contains such a low amount of egg protein that it’s unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in those with an egg allergy. If you have a severe egg allergy , talk to your doctor before getting the flu vaccine. The vaccine should be given by a health care provider with experience in managing allergic signs and symptoms and should be watched closely for at least 30 minutes. Also, flu vaccines that do not contain eggs are available.
Getting Flu Vaccine During The Covid
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the best way to help prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. Given that seasonal influenza vaccines are safe and effective, all persons aged 6 months or above except those with known contraindications are recommended to receive influenza vaccine to protect themselves against seasonal influenza and its complications, as well as related hospitalisations and deaths.
Persons aged 9 years or above are recommended to receive one dose of 2021-22 influenza vaccine. To ensure adequate immunity against seasonal influenza, children under 9 years old who have never received any seasonal influenza vaccine are recommended to be given 2 doses with a minimum interval of 4 weeks in the 2021-22 season. Children who have received at least one dose of seasonal influenza vaccine in the 2020-21 season or before are recommended to receive one dose in the 2021-22 season.
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Was Flumist Discontinued At Some Point
Yes, FluMist wasnt available during the 20162018 flu seasons. The CDC recommended against using FluMist at that time because studies showed that the vaccine was only about 3% effective from 20132016.
However, in 2018, the manufacturer of FluMist changed the vaccine so that it would be more effective. With that change, the CDC began to recommend FluMist as an option for flu vaccination in 2019. However, there was a limited supply of the vaccine available during the 20192020 flu season due to a manufacturing shortage.
FluMist is currently approved for the 20202021 flu season for use in children and adults ages 2 to 49 years. If you have questions about whether FluMist is right for you, talk with your doctor. You can also refer to CDC recommendations in the How FluMist is given section above.
Flu Vaccine Comparison: Second Opinions
The new study adds some valuable information about the two flu vaccines, says Christian Sandrock, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, University of California, Davis and a specialist in infectious disease and pulmonary critical care.
“The best data on the live virus seems to be in kids. The data there is really good, in favor of the live virus. When you get to adults, 17 and up, it gets a little sketchy.”
But, Sandrock says, “It’s hard to translate the military group to the general population.” Based on the study, even as large as it is, he says, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable making a recommendation.”
His colleague, Dean Blumberg, MD, an associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, Sacramento, says the new study may change some people’s view of the flu shot. “Some have suggested that the inactivated vaccine is old-fashioned and that the nasal spray will take over,” he says. “This suggests there is still a place for the inactivated vaccine.”
Previous studies, Blumberg says, have suggested that the intranasal vaccine appears to be more protective in children and when there is a vaccine mismatch — that is, between the strains covered in the vaccine and the strains circulating in the community. The injected vaccine, this and other research suggests, may be more effective in those who have had prior flu immunizations or bouts of the flu.
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A Closer Look At The Safety Data
Findings from vaccine safety monitoring systems and scientific studies have shown that the flu vaccines have an excellent safety profile. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines for more than 50 years and the body of scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports their safety.
The safety of flu vaccines is monitored by CDC and FDA. Certain safety outcomes are commonly evaluated, including Guillain-Barré Syndrome, maternal and infant safety, and febrile seizures.
The data on an association between seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine and GBS have been variable from season-to-season. When there has been an increased risk, it has been in the range of 1-2 additional GBS cases per million flu vaccine doses administered. The data also indicate that a person is more likely to get GBS after flu disease than after getting a flu vaccine. Learn more about Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
Maternal and Infant Safety
Pregnant women are considered at high risk for developing serious complications from flu. Several studies have shown that influenza vaccination can protect pregnant women during and after pregnancy and protect the baby from influenza infection for several months after birth. More information on flu vaccine effectiveness in pregnant women and their babies.