Thursday, November 19, 2015

A quick sniff up the nose can prevent the flu

Patient getting the nasal spray flu vaccine
CDC/ Dr. Bill Atkinson
Have you been putting off getting your flu vaccination because you’re afraid of needles? Would you believe us if we said that there’s a quick, easy and needle-free alternative? Well, fear no more! The nasal spray flu vaccine is here.

Every year, thousands of people in the United States die from the flu and even more are hospitalized. The flu season occurs in the fall and the winter and can peak from late November through March, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In fact, flu cases are happening right now around the country. Sadly, health officials in California reported in November that both an infant and an adult have already died from flu this season.

Getting the nasal spray flu vaccine can not only keep you from getting the flu, but it can make your symptoms less severe if you do get it. Plus, it can prevent you from spreading your flu germs to your family and friends — including people who can’t get the vaccine, such as young babies.

So how does the nasal spray flu vaccine differ from the shot? For one, there’s that no needle thing. The nasal vaccine is also made from a weakened flu virus. But don’t worry — it can’t cause the flu. (Really!)

The spray works for both kids and adults and it’s safe for healthy people ages 2 through 49, says CDC. There are some folks who shouldn’t use it, though. For example, the nasal spray flu vaccine shouldn’t be used with people who are pregnant or have egg allergies, or in certain young kids with asthma, so check with your health provider before vaccination.

Flu vaccines take about two weeks for protection to develop, so it’s a good idea to get vaccinated ASAP. Luckily, protection lasts for the entire flu season. (Score!)

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you may have heard that nasal spray flu vaccine manufacturers fell behind in shipping out vaccine supplies this year. So there’s a possibility that you may not find the nasal vaccine at the first place you try. You may want to call around to pharmacies, your doctor and local health department and ask if they have supplies before heading out for your vaccination.

But if you can’t find the nasal spray, don’t put off your vaccination: talk to your health provider about the regular flu shot instead. You don’t want to risk your health by waiting.

No one wants to miss out on all of the wonderful holiday festivities because of the flu. Muscle aches, sore throats, headaches and chills are not something you want to have while spending time with friends and family (or spread to them).

Want more facts on flu vaccination to read and share? Check out our Get Ready fact sheet. To find a vaccination site near you, use the Healthmap Vaccine Finder.

No comments: