ATLANTA – It’s not for everyone, but there’s a way to get a flu vaccine without getting a shot in the arm.
For a short time, the Centers for Disease Control stopped recommending the nasal spray as a way of protecting yourself from the flu.
Now, it’s once again considered a viable option.
The flu virus can change from one year to the next and the vaccine has to change with it. When the H1N1 swine flu arrived in 2009, the nasal vaccine didn’t put up enough of a fight to impress the CDC. So, the agency recommended against it for a couple of years.
“In the meantime, the manufacturer actually went in and reformulated it,” Dr. Ashley Hannings of the University of Georgia’s College of Pharmacy explained. “They’ve since re-released it.”
After changes to the nasal vaccine, the CDC is back to recommending it while at the same time warning that it’s not for everyone.
Dr. Hannings told us the vaccine that comes in a syringe uses an inactive form of the flu virus to convince our body to fight back. The nasal vaccine has a weakened form of the virus.
“They take the virus, they modify it in a laboratory, and it’s still considered live,” Hannings said. “I think of the nasal spray as being an option for people who are age 2 to 49 who are for the most part otherwise healthy.”
So, if you’re under the age of two or older than 49, if you’re pregnant or have a condition that compromises your immune system, the nasal spray is not for you.
Everyone else has a choice.
“The nasal option is one … we ask people to have their physician make that recommendation and make that decision,” Dr. Leandris Liburd of the CDC stated.
Again, it’s not for everyone, but for many people, there’s a way to avoid needles and the flu.