The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine – Working, Effectiveness and Benefits
- What Is Nasal Flu Spray?
- Who Should Get Vaccinated for Flu?
- Who Should Not Be Administered the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine?
- What Is the Flu Vaccine Made Of?
- Precautions to Take While Using the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
- Effectiveness of the Flu Spray
- Which Is Better: Flu Shot or Nasal Spray?
- Are There Any Side Effects of Nasal Flu Spray?
With the flu season fast approaching, it’s only wise to get yourself (and your children) vaccinated. Flu is a seasonal respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. It is contagious and can spread easily from one person to another. These are the two commonly responsible viruses for respiratory flu infection, and the effect of the flu can range from mild to severe. The mild flu might last for a week and can be treated with little or no medical attention. However, there can be severe flu effects that can result in immediate medical attention, hospitalisation, or even death.
The most effective way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated every year. Vaccinations reduce the chances of catching the flu. But if you and your children are not fond of needles, perhaps, you could try the nasal flu spray.
What Is Nasal Flu Spray?
Nasal flu spray vaccine or also called ‘Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine’ (LAIV). It is a flu nose spray vaccine that a doctor sprays in your nose to protect you during the flu season. The flu nasal mist vaccine is prepared from the weakened flu viruses that stimulate the body to generate flu-fighting antibodies. These antibodies help protect the body from the flu virus. Moreover, this is an annual vaccine, which means it should be taken every year to prevent flu sickness.
Who Should Get Vaccinated for Flu?
Since flu vaccines help protect from the sickness and prevent you from spreading it to others, doctors say that every person should take the flu vaccines either in the form of flu shots or in the form of influenza nasal sprays. However, there are certain restrictions with regards to administering vaccination to people. The following people should be vaccinated:
- Individuals between the ages of 2 and 50 years.
- Every non-pregnant healthy individual should take the vaccine.
More priority should be given to the high-risk people for providing the vaccines. If at any time, there is a shortage of vaccine, they should be the ones to administer first. The people that fall under the high-risk groups are:
- small children.
- peoples with chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, or anyone suffering from cardiovascular or neurologic diseases.
- anyone who is immunocompromised due to any reason, maybe due to some medications or HIV infection.
- women who might get pregnant during the flu season.
- people working in nursing homes and health-care associations.
- people suffering from obesity.
- caregivers or the people who come in frequent contact with these people.
Who Should Not Be Administered the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine?
Although the nasal spray flu vaccine should be administered to all, there are certain people who should not be given this vaccine.
- Children whose age is less than 2 years.
- Adults of 50 years and above.
- Pregnant women.
- A person has shown some allergic reactions to the flu vaccine before.
- Any person who has taken influenza antiviral drugs within the last 48 hours.
- A person with a weakened immune system or are immunosuppressed due to any reason.
- The person who is taking care of the person with a weakened immune system.
- Children aged 2-4 years who suffer from asthma or have had any infections in the past years.
- Children between the ages of 2 and 17 years who are taking aspirin or salicylate-containing medicines.
- People with underlying medical conditions.
- People with cochlear implants.
- People without a spleen or with a non-functioning spleen.
What Is the Flu Vaccine Made Of?
Flu shots are made from dead influenza viruses, while the nasal spray vaccine is made from weakened live viruses. The vaccine’s actual composition is not fixed and researchers and manufacturers keep upgrading the vaccine every year to ensure its efficacy. Twice a year, the WHO makes some recommendations regarding the updations of the composition of the vaccine. The composition of the vaccine is changed every time, keeping in mind the type of virus, which is likely to affect the people around that time. The virus that creates and spreads flu and influenza mutate itself, i.e., they change their structure rapidly. Since vaccines can only work against the virus they are administered for, the changed structured virus will not be affected by the vaccine, which makes the earlier vaccines useless. So, doctors and health care scientists predict the structure of the virus that can affect or create influenza and flu and prepare for the appropriate vaccines accordingly. Though these are made on the basis of assumptions, most of the time, the doctors are able to figure the correct composition of the vaccine to be made.
For the year 2020-2021, the flu vaccine was made quadrivalent, i.e., they are made from four different flu viruses: Influenza A(H3N1) virus, and Influenza A(H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses. However, the compositions keep varying according to the type of virus that prevails. These viruses help the body to create the antibodies that prevent the influenza virus from attacking the body.
Precautions to Take While Using the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
The following precautions should be kept in mind when using the nasal spray flu vaccine:
- For babies between the age group of 6 months to 2 years, nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used. Babies are administered a different vaccine.
- Anyone above 5 years of age who has asthma should take extra precautions while using the nasal flu vaccine.
- People who have underlying medical conditions like heart, lungs, kidney disease, or the people who are at a higher risk of complications should also take precautions while using the vaccine.
- Some precautions should be taken for the person suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks after taking the flu vaccine.
- Precaution should be taken for people with moderate or severe illness who have a fever or not.
- If you are taking care of a person with low immunity power, avoid going near them for 7 days after taking the vaccine.
- If you have a fever or any infection, it is better to ask the doctor before taking the vaccine.
Effectiveness of the Flu Spray
The vaccine’s effectiveness varies from year to year as the effectiveness at which the vaccine will work against the flu depends on several factors like the match between the strains of the virus used to make the vaccine and the strain of the actual disease-causing virus. Another factor that affects the efficacy of this vaccine is the age of the person to whom the vaccine is been administered and their administered health status.
Which Is Better: Flu Shot or Nasal Spray?
Researchers have found that the flu shot and nasal spray are both effective as a vaccine against the flu. Flu shots vaccine and the inhaled flu vaccine are both considered effective. But your doctor will be able to guide you better and you should consider the one suggested by your doctor.
Are There Any Side Effects of Nasal Flu Spray?
Although there may not be a major side-effect of the nasal flu spray, some mild effects can show after getting spray vaccination. In children, the symptoms can be:
While older people can have symptoms like:
There is no need to worry as these problems are mild and subside soon enough. However, some people may faint during the vaccination procedure. You should inform your healthcare provider if you feel dizzy or feel different sensations in-ear. There is a slight 1 out of 1000 possibility that any person might catch any allergic reaction to the vaccine. If any serious symptoms occur after taking the vaccination, it is advised to immediately bring it to the medical attention.
Whether mild or severe, flu infection is a matter of concern and should not be taken lightly. Some people are at a higher risk of complications of the infection, special care should be provided to them. As the virus keeps on changing, the vaccine keeps changing. There is no guarantee that the vaccine will work against the influenza virus, but it does offer protection against the virus. All measures should be taken for treatment, and before that, measures should be taken for prevention as prevention is always better than cure.