The Flu Shot or Nasal Spray: Which is For You?

There is no sure-fire way to avoid getting the flu this winter, but it is possible to lower your risk. The best way to do that is to get the flu vaccine. While the CDC has recently announced that the flu vaccine isn’t as effective as they’d hoped, it still protects against some strains and can lessen the severity of the flu if you get it. And even young and healthy people can catch the flu, ending up sick in bed for days. On top of that, the flu is incredibly contagious, meaning you can spread it to others who may get seriously ill. It’s especially important to get the vaccine if you have contact with people 65 years or older. Seniors have weakened immune systems, with 90 percent of flu-related deaths happening to people over the age of 65.

Once you choose to get the flu vaccine, you’re faced with a decision: Do you get a traditional flu shot or go with a nasal spray? Here’s a look at the two options:

Flu shot: Made from dead influenza virus, this vaccine is administered as a shot in the muscle of your upper arm. It can’t give you the flu, but it might give you an aching arm or, in some cases, mild fever and achiness. Adults of any age and any child over the age of six months can get the shot. If you have a severe allergic reaction to eggs, you should ask your doctor for one that does not contain egg protein.

Nasal spray: This is a good option for people between the ages of two and 49 who dislike needles (although pregnant women are advised to stick with the flu shot). In fact, for kids between the ages of two and eight, the CDC actually recommends the spray over the shot as studies indicate it actually works better for younger children. The nasal spray does differ slightly from the normal flu shot. Instead of using a dead virus, this one is made up of a live-but-weakened virus. It still can’t cause the flu, but it can create more severe side effects like runny nose, headache, sore throat or cough.

Find out where to get the vaccine in Michigan by visiting the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Photo credit: Patricia H.

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