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Nasal flu vaccine vs the Flu shot: which one should I get?

It’s that time of the year again! With flu season starting, it is extremely important to get the Flu vaccine -this year more so than ever! Since we have COVID going around too and no prevention against the SARS-CoA virus for now, we do not want to risk getting sick with both the viruses!

This year we have the option of 2 vaccines. One of them is the Flu shot, the other is the flu nasal spray.

The flu shot is an inactivated or “dead” vaccine. It can be given to all children > 6 months of age. It takes 2 weeks after getting the shot for your body to build full immunity against the flu so early- mid October is ideal to get the shot.

The flu nasal spray is a live vaccine which means the virus has been weakened and made into a vaccine. Because of this, it is suitable for children > 2 years.

Who cannot get this type of vaccine? If you’re < 2 years of age, have asthma or other respiratory conditions, have a medical condition or are on any medications which weakens your immune system (cancer, on chemotherapy, on high dose steroids), you’re not a candidate for the vaccine.

Which one is better? The efficacy of the vaccine is looked at after the current flu season is over. Every year, the flu virus is constantly mutating and changing strains and the vaccines are made based on extensive research and knowledge based on the previous years’ strains. Last year the flu vaccine was 40-60% effective : that means almost a 60% chance of not getting sick with the flu and a higher percentage of not getting complications from the flu!

Currently the AAP and CDC recommend both the vaccines equally, and encourage you to get whichever vaccine is available in your area.

Can my child get the vaccine if they were diagnosed with COVID in the last few months? Yes, Your child can get the flu vaccine (spray or shot) AFTER they’ve recovered from the COVID illness,( ~ 14 days for asymptomatic or mild illnesses)  provided they meet all the age related and medical conditions criteria.

Can my child get the vaccines if they have an egg allergy? If the egg allergy is mild ( rash) without systemic symptoms, there is no reason not to get the flu vaccine! However if your child has every had difficulty breathing, swollen face/lips or severe symptoms (GI or respiratory) after eating an egg and has been diagnosed with anaphylaxis secondary to eggs, it is recommended that they get the Flu vaccine at an allergists office for closer monitoring.

Don’t wait! Get your flu vaccine today!

 

Dr. Vasudha Mahajan

 

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