In 2016, the CDC found Flumist spray to be less effective than flu shots. The experts at Roper St. Francis discuss why you should still get the Flu shot.
Your flu vaccine is going to be a little more wince worthy this year. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee has recommended that nasal spray (FluMist) vaccine should no longer be used. The committee found that FluMist hasn’t been as effective as the shot version during the past several flu seasons.
The FDA first approved FluMist in 2003. Soon after the nasal spray became popular with parents preferring a nasal spray versus a needle for their children. It was also a good alternative for needle shy adults.
While your flu vaccine may have a little more sting this year, you should still get vaccinated. Seasonal influenza— the flu— infects the nose, throat and lungs. And while the flu makes life miserable for a week or two for many, it can be deadly for some. Flu season begins as early as October and peaks anywhere from late December to early April, according to the CDC.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
A flu vaccine is most important for children 6 months to 59 months and adults ages 50 and older. It is also important for anyone with a chronic disease, anyone who lives in a nursing home or other long-term care site, healthcare workers and people who are often in contact with elderly adults or the chronically ill. Women who plan to be pregnant during flu season should also be vaccinated.
Even if you don’t fall into one of the above groups, you can still get the vaccine if you want to avoid the flu.
Who Should Talk with Their Doctor Before Being Vaccinated
Some people shouldn’t be vaccinated for the flu before talking with their doctor, the CDC says. These are reasons to talk with your healthcare provider:
- You have a severe allergy such as an anaphylactic reaction to chicken eggs.
- You had previously developed Guillian-Barré syndrome in the 6 weeks after getting a flu shot.
- You currently have an illness with a fever. Wait until symptoms improve before getting the vaccine.
Children younger than 6 months of age should not be vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccines haven’t been approved for that age group.
Other Flu Prevention Steps
Flu viruses are spread by contact with droplets sneezed or coughed from an infected person. Inhaling the droplets is the most common route to getting the flu. Touching objects where the droplets have landed also infects many people. You can spread the virus to others before you feel sick yourself. The CDC says you are contagious a day before symptoms begin and up to 5 days afterward.
You can protect yourself against the flu by doing simple things like washing your hands before eating and not putting your hands near your face or in your mouth. You don’t need special cleansers when washing your hands. Washing for at least 20 seconds with ordinary soap works fine.
The other effective means of flu prevention is humidity. The flu bug exists in higher quantities in dry nasal and oral passages, which is one reason why flu epidemics occur in dry winter months. Raise the humidity in your workplace and at home to keep your nasal passages and mouth moist. Your body will then be better able to flush out the flu bug.