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FluMist® is an intranasal flu vaccine which is delivered by spraying liquid up the nose. This alternative to the flu shot can be delivered annually before the start of flu season. A dose of FluMist® costs slightly more than a flu shot, but this form of the flu vaccine can sometimes be more readily available, in addition to being more comfortable and convenient than a traditional shot. Many facilities which offer flu vaccinations have FluMist® available for people who would prefer it.
This vaccination is made with live attenuated influenza viruses (LAIV), tailored to the given flu season. MedImmune, Inc, the manufacturer of the vaccine, works with researchers to identify flu strains which are likely to occur during flu season while preparing the vaccine. There are a number of people for whom vaccination with FluMist® is contraindicated because it can be unsafe. People should make sure to fully disclose their medical history before getting the vaccination, in case they are in one of the risk categories.
As of 2009, FluMist® was approved for use in healthy individuals between the ages of two and 49. Pregnant women, while hopefully healthy, cannot safely take the vaccine because it might pose a risk to the baby, but FluMist® is approved for use in breastfeeding women. People who have recently taken antiviral drugs, especially if they took drugs for flu, should wait for these drugs to clear their systems before taking FluMist®, as otherwise the lingering drugs may counteract with the vaccine.
This vaccine is also not recommended in use for people with egg allergies, or in people who have contact with severely immunosuppressed individuals. While the risk of passing viruses to others is fairly low, it could be very dangerous for someone with a suppressed immune system, and it's better to avoid the risk. Children between ages two and eight will need to take two doses of the vaccine for it to be fully effective.
Side effects of the FluMist® vaccine include headaches, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, and nausea in children. Fever is not a common side effect, and people who develop fever after vaccination should contact a doctor. People should also be aware that the vaccine only provides protection against certain strains of flu, and that flu viruses mutate quickly, which means that it is impossible to provide full protection. Even after vaccination, people should observe precautions such as regular handwashing to reduce the risk of contracting influenza.