Flu Shot, mist, or no vaccine? What’s right for you?

Young Woman Blowing Her Nose in BedIn our house we are certainly for vaccination. I know that certain beliefs and religions do not share this view, which is why we live in this glorious country and have a choice. But our family weighs risks of the disease and/or illness with the side effects of the vaccine and we make our decisions on what is safest and healthiest for us as a family.

With that said, every year (since I had the flu over 10 years ago) I have received the flu vaccine. I received it again this year. I was delighted (although I knew these facts already) that the pharmacist doing my vaccination told me all about what I would be receiving.

Influenza (flu) is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza viruses and is spread through the respiratory tract. If you contract the flu it can me mild to severe, even causing death.3 Flu symptoms include, fever and chills, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue. Some people also experience some nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.4 Most people who contract the flu recover in a few days to a few weeks. But some complications, such as pneumonia can result in death.4

Anyone can catch the flu, but some people are at a higher risk for catching and developing serious complications from the flu. Those people include children under 5 years old, adults over 65 years old, pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes, lung disease, autoimmune disease, as well as other types of organ disorders and illnesses.5

The best way to avoid the flu is by getting vaccinated.4

MP900313987What is the flu shot?

The shot is a vaccination delivered via needle and provides the same protection as a nasal mist. 1The injection is given in the upper arm (I choose my right arm because I am right handed and the soreness wears off more quickly this way – I have found!).

This year’s flu vaccine included protection against two influenza A types and 2 influenza B types.2

The shot is not a live virus injection, rather dead virus cells to provide your body with a template for antibodies. You cannot develop the flu from the shot vaccination.1

This type of vaccination method is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and up. The younger children under age 1 generally need more than one dose to reach the full vaccination level.

The side effects of a shot are minimal and mild if they occur. Sometimes fever and body aches can occur.

What is the flu mist?

The mist is provided in a nasal spray format. This differs not only in the delivery method, but also in what it contains. Although it contains the same strands for vaccination the cells are live, and can cause flu-like symptoms, but most people do not develop the flu or symptoms from it’s use.1

This type of vacation is recommended only to people 2 years old to 49 years old. It is also not recommended for those who have immune-compromised health issues (from chemotherapy or other illness), as well as those with asthma and breathing problems.1 You will be asked to blow your nose to clear it out and then take a big sniff as a very mild mist/spray enters your nasal passages. My 3.5 year old son was able to use the nasal mist with success (despite my concerns!)

The side effects of this method can be more severe than a shot, but are generally mild. Such as sore throat, some flu-like symptoms in the days to follow.

With both types of vaccination there is always a risk of side effect from fillers and balancing components (as there is with any medication you take as well). There is an egg preservative used in both types of vaccination and so it is important to find out if the vaccine you are getting has this (and some do not), and be sure you alert the person providing the vaccine with any allergies you might have. If you see your general practitioner they should know these things already.

Why/who should we get a flu vaccine?

The CDC recommends that all individuals above 6 months old receive a flu vaccinations. It does lower your risk level each season, and each season has a new set of strains. You can develop the flu even if you receive a vaccination, due to the fact you could contract a strain not vaccinated against.2 They recommend an annual vaccine that should be received in late summer, and before the end of October. If you have had a fever, it is not advised you receive the vaccination until it subsides, but a general cold is not something that can prevent you from receiving the vaccination.2

The length of a flu season varies from October to late May.2

MP900308894General Practices and Flu Shots

This year is the first year in nearly 4 years that I have been unable to obtain a flu shot for my child from our pediatrician. They claim there is no shortage, but they are not receiving the vaccines from the manufacturer as expected (which sure seems like a shortage to me!). This year my child received the flu mist at a flu clinic. My husband also received the mist. This is the first year my husband has chosen to be vaccinated as he doesn’t like receiving an injection, and was able to get the mist at the clinic.

We contacted surrounding and our own county health departments to find clinics with vaccinations available. We did learn that some county clinics no longer offer vaccinations to those with health insurance. This seems very backwards to me, and with a degree in the health education field, it seems downright wrong. I have always been a proponent for healthcare for all, including availability for vaccinations no matter what. I was told by another department that this was probably occurring because they are trying to “force” GP to be responsible for their patients. But unfortunately I don’t think the GP really considers it being forced if they don’t have the supply and can’t provide the vaccine anyway.

What’s right for you?

You should make your decision about being vaccinated based on your health issues, risks and the benefits of protection. Of course weighed with potential side effects. The type of vaccination is all yours (in most cases). Check with your doctor, or clinic about getting a vaccine for yourself and your family.


1- http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/flu-shot-nasal-spray

2- http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm

3- http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm

4- http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/symptoms.htm

5- http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm