Healthy You: Beat flu blues with shots and mists
Cough, sneeze, take medicine, sleep, repeat.
It’s flu season and while some might be lucky enough to avoid this miserable routine of the flu, others have to suffer through it. That’s why it’s important to get your annual flu vaccination, but which is better: the flu shot or flu mist?
The most obvious difference between the flu shot and flu mist is that a shot is injected in your arm, while the mist is sprayed into your nose.
The flu shot is the universal flu vaccination because it can be used for adults and also children ages six months and up. It contains a dead influenza virus, but can’t give someone the flu. The side effects are also relatively minor, including soreness of the injection site, mild fever, and achiness that may last up to two days.
According to WebMD.com, the pros of the flu shot are that it has fewer potential side effects and is safer for a wider age-span than the flu mists. A con of the flu shot is that, because it is injected with a needle, it can be more difficult for some people to take.
The flu mist is not as common as the flu shot because it can only be administered to adults and children ages two to 50. It contains a live influenza virus, but it is weakened so that it can’t cause the flu. However, the side effects of the flu mist include flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, headache, sore throat, cough, and fever.
According to WebMD.com, the pros of the flu mist are that it is easy to take and offers somewhat better protection than the flu shot. The cons are that there are more restrictions on who can take the flu mist depending on age, overall health, and pre-existing conditions like asthma or diseases that weaken the immune system.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu mist reduced the chance of catching the flu by 92 percent compared to a placebo in a study of children from ages 15 to 85 months. The flu shot was 60 percent effective across all age groups. The flu mist has shown to be more effective in children than adults, but more studies are being done to discover the full effectiveness of it.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that everyone above the age of six months should get vaccinated against the flu, especially health care workers. Which type of vaccination you get depends on your overall health condition, but the flu shot and mist provide two viable options for those who want to stay healthy this flu season.
Not only can flu vaccinations protect against seasonal strains of the flu, but the 2011-2012 flu vaccine also protects against the 2009 H1N1 virus. This is an added advantage because last year during flu season, people needed to get two vaccines: the seasonal and the H1N1 vaccine.
Skip the dreaded flu routine this season and see your doctor or local pharmacy like Walgreens or CVS to protect yourself from the flu blues.
Stephanie Meadowcroft is a Lifestyles Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.