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 6 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    TOP

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    TOP

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 or other illness
  • Received a vaccine in the past 4 weeks

If You Get the Nasal Spray Vaccine    TOP

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    TOP

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 2 weeks for the FluMist to protect your body. But the vaccine will last for about a year.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Flu—US Department of Health & Human Services


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


FluMist quadrivalent. FluMist website. Available at: https://www.flumistquadrivalent.com/consumer. Accessed December 10, 2015.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Updated January 26, 2015. Accessed December 10, 2015.
Live, intranasal influenza VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Updated August 7, 2015. Accessed December 10, 2015.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 12/10/2015

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