Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Flu Shot vs FluMist - A Mother's Guide

Flu Shot vs Mist

Ok, so I had a lot of questions about the topic of the flu and the vaccinations my girls would be receiving. I did some research and found that the most helpful information from the standpoint of being a mother came from an institution that is in my own backyard. The Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center web site is the source of all of the following information. Most of it is actually cut and pasted directly from their pages and I have included the links…

The flu shot contains killed (inactive) viruses, so it is not possible to get the flu from this type of vaccine. However, some people do get a low-grade fever for a day or two after the shot as their immune systems gear up to recognize the virus. The flu shot is approved for people age 6 months and older.

The FluMist is a nasal spray-type flu vaccine which uses a live, weakened virus instead of a dead one like the flu shot. It is approved for healthy people aged 2 to 49. The vaccine helps the lining of the nose fight off actual viral infections. It should not be used in those who have asthma or children under age 5 who have repeated wheezing episodes.
The above information came directly from our (Winston-Salem’s) very own Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and can be found at

Some things I wonder about as a mother are:

Is there a time interval required between the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines or can they both be taken at the same time?
The seasonal and H1N1 FluMist vaccines may not be taken within thirty days of one another. All other combinations of the two vaccines (two injectable or one injectable and one FluMist) may be taken at the same time.

Is H1N1 a live vaccine?
Just like the seasonal vaccine, the H1N1 vaccine is being manufactured in both live attenuated (FluMist) and inactive (injectable) forms.

Have any clinical trial results been completed for the H1N1 vaccine? How can we be confident that it is safe?
The H1N1 vaccine is being produced following exactly the same process as the seasonal vaccine. Moreover, the only H1N1 vaccines approved by the FDA for use in the United States contain the exact formulations that have been used in our influenza vaccines for decades and contain no adjuvants (accelerants/boosters) or new additives. The difference between the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines is the same as the difference between this year's seasonal vaccine and last year's seasonal vaccine. Influenza vaccines are adjusted annually to attempt to make the strains in the vaccine match the major strains that are causing infection throughout the world as closely as possible.

Is a preservative (Thimerosal) free vaccine made for both the seasonal flu and H1N1?
Both the seasonal and H1N1 FluMists are Thimerosal-free. The injectable H1N1 vaccine contains Thimerosal because it comes in multi-dose vials. A large body of evidence supports that Thimerosal is not harmful in the quantities contained in the influenza vaccines. Manufacturers do make limited quantities of an injectable seasonal vaccine that is Thimerosal-free for those with Thimerosal allergies. Check with your primary care physician for availability.

I have a cold and cough but no fever. Should I wait to take the flu vaccine?
Unless you have a fever of at least 100.0 Fahrenheit oral temperature, there is no reason for you to wait to take the injectable flu vaccine. In most instances, you may also take the intranasal FluMist vaccine. However, if your nasal congestion is bad enough to impede the delivery of the intranasal vaccine then you should get the injectable vaccine or wait a few days until the nasal congestion improves.

Like I said I did a search of the entire web and found this to be the most comprehensive and helpful information for mothers. The link to their site is below. I think you will find answers to any other questions you may have there as well!
I hope this helps!


  1. My kids just got the flu vaccine in the nasal spray form, which was a lot less fear-inducing than the shot--something else to consider. By the way, they had NO side effects whatsoever, so I was very pleased about that.

  2. My family received the H1N1 intranasal last week without complications or side effects. It seems some people are "scared" of the words live virus which is understandable. But to one's surprise, other vaccines our children receive are "live" such as MMR. I am grateful there are choices. I'd rather have my child receive the intranasal vaccine than a shot because the shot can cause some discomfort upon injection and shortly after.