Flu shots and nasal spray— tackling the flu season

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By Megan McDonnell
Entirely East Lansing

The 2014-2015 flu season vaccination available at CVS Pharmacy.

The 2014-2015 flu season vaccination available at CVS Pharmacy.

For the 2014-2015 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending the use of a nasal spray vaccine for children ages 2 to 8.

In the United States there’s an average of 200,000 people hospitalized from flu complications every year, in which 3,000 to 49,000 people die as a result of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gail Gillengerten, administrative assistant for the office of the superintendent of the East Lansing Public Schools said, “ELPS does not have a policy specific to the flu.”

By not having a policy in place, there is nothing forcing parents to vaccinate their children before they enter the public school system.

The nasal spray, often referred to as FluMist, contains weakened viruses, which prevents the host from contracting the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“FluMist…it’s a live, attenuated vaccine, which means that the vaccine is not supposed to be able to replicate as effectively as the flu vaccine,” said CVS Pharmacist James Bellar.

This form of flu prevention is more appealing to younger kids who are afraid of needles and experience anxiety when receiving vaccines.

“…Symptoms (of the shot) could be dizziness, or even fainting, after getting the injection, which may or may not be due to the vaccine. I feel like that’s just due to the anxiety related to getting the shot,” said Bellar.

“Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in “Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Safety: A Summary for Clinicians.”

The vaccination, unlike the nasal spray, runs a risk for causing flu-like symptoms.

20-year-old Michigan State University student Haley Clayton said, “I think that it was around early October when I had (the flu shot.) Since then, I have been sick three times. Two out of the three times I went to Olin, and they said that I just had a virus. My symptoms were coughing, a sore throat, chills and nasal congestion.”

Some of the most common symptoms of the flu according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are coughing, sore throat, chills and nasal congestion or a runny nose.

By refusing to subject young children to the vaccination the irritating and common side effects of the shot are avoided.

“You’re going to get inflammation where you get the vaccine put in, so usually that just feels like you got punched in the arm,” said Bellar. “Less common (symptoms) would be like a large rash that would start at the injection site, and perhaps spread down the arm. I’ve seen that once or twice.

“In some cases, people can have a really bad reaction that can almost lead to a seizure. But again, it’d be pretty uncommon that you’d see that.”

While the spray seems to be the best fit for children, the delivery method can be complicated.

“You may or may not get good delivery of the nasal vaccine if you’ve got a runny nose,” said Bellar. “Congestion and the vaccine don’t mix.”

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