3 Common Questions About the Nasal Flu Vaccine Answered

nasal flu vaccine

The nasal flu vaccine (Flumist) was conspicuous by its absence this year. Well, that’s what happens when you fall down on the job. Officially: poor performance. The real scoop: lousy performance. And in the case of one flu strain: no performance.

What Makes the Nasal Vaccine Different?

Any kid could tell you that. It’s not a shot. And that’s really all they need to know.

But there are nuances that might interest adults. For one thing, unlike the virus in the shots, this virus isn’t dead. It’s what’s called a “live attenuated” virus. So it’s alive, but not peppy.

It is remotely possible that it could give you the flu. About the way it’s remotely possible that a meteor could splash down the next street over, and the resulting draft could send a winning lottery ticket your way. We all dream. And in fact, we all fear. But the chances of catching the flu from these poor, pooped viruses are very remote.

Why Bother with It?

It’s not a shot. And pediatricians and people who hate shots love them – because it’s not a shot.

All of that contributes to making it easier for people to get vaccinated. People are less likely to avoid vaccination if they’re not terrified. Or their child isn’t terrified. With the nasal flu vaccine, there’s less reason for the faint of heart to avoid vaccination directly. And there’s less reason to come up with other creative, convincing, and face-saving reasons.

Scientists speculate that a vaccine up the nose might be especially useful against a disease that you might be getting by way of your nose.

Will There Be Enough of Them to Go Around?

Hard to tell. Apparently, most of the providers that would normally have bought a good supply of Flumist have already ordered for the next flu season. But, as with the flu itself, perhaps predictions should be taken with a grain of salt.


It’s back. And if it works, great. But there’s no getting around the fact that the nasal flu vaccine has something to prove. But not to kids. It’s still not a shot.