10 Sep

This Flu Season, Steer Clear of Nasal Sprays

sick-at-workWhen the summer season gives way to fall and winter, the flu season start to simultaneously rear its ugly head. Though the flu is merely an uncomfortable inconvenience for most people, it can actually prove fatal to young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all able Americans receive a flu shot each fall to minimize the potential for an outbreak.

In past years, the shot was also available in a nasal spray that was easier and less traumatic for young children. Rather than containing an inactivated virus to teach the immune system to fight off the flu, the nasal spray was made with live attenuated virusmeaning it was viable but harmlessand puffed up the nose.

The problem is, research of children ages two through 17 who received the nasal spray over the past three flu seasons were 2 1/2 times more likely to get sick with the flu than children who were given the shot. The numbers prove an undeniable lesson that the nasal spray vaccine simply isn’t as effective as doctors and parents had hoped. Now children and adults alike will have no choice but to endure the flu shot itself, and the CDC recommends that all children over the age of six months receive it this year.

It’s commonly misunderstood that the flu shot can cause the flu, but that’s not true at all. Since vaccine makers clip the chemical codes out of the virus that would have caused sickness, the flu vaccine simply helps the body’s immune cells understand what the flu virus looks like and prepare to fight the real thing if it ever invades. Considering that half of the 85 children who died from the flu last year had no other illnesses at the time, it is critical that all children receive the shot to protect themselves and prevent the flu from spreading those around them.