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FluMist Nasal Spray

Generic Name: influenza virus vaccine (nasal) (in floo ENZ a VYE rus VAK seen)
Brand Names: FluMist 2018-2019

Medically reviewed by P. Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Mar 11, 2019.

What is FluMist?

FluMist (influenza virus nasal vaccine) is used to prevent infection caused by influenza virus. The vaccine is redeveloped each year to contain specific strains of activated (live) flu virus that are recommended by public health officials for that year.

FluMist nasal spray is a "live virus" vaccine. Influenza virus vaccine is also available as an injection (flu shot) which is a "killed virus" vaccine. This medication guide addresses only the nasal form of this vaccine.

FluMist is for use in adults up to 49 years old, and children who are at least 2 years old.

FluMist works by exposing you to a small dose of the influenza virus, which helps your body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

Becoming infected with influenza is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. Influenza causes thousands of deaths each year, and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Like any vaccine, FluMist may not provide protection from disease in every person.

Influenza (commonly known as "the flu") is a serious disease caused by a virus. Influenza virus can spread from one person to another through small droplets of saliva that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also be passed through contact with objects the infected person has touched, such as a door handle or other surfaces.

Important Information

You may not be able to receive FluMist if you are allergic to eggs, if you or someone in your household has a weak immune system, if you are under 18 years old and have recently taken aspirin, or if you have a history of breathing problems, heart or kidney problems, diabetes, Guillain-Barre syndrome, or severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine.

You should not receive a booster dose of FluMist if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first dose.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. If you ever need to receive FluMist in the future, you will need to tell your doctor if the previous dose caused any side effects.

Before taking this medicine

You may not be able to receive FluMist if you are allergic to eggs, or if you have:

  • a history of severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine;

  • a history of Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (within 6 weeks after receiving a flu vaccine);

  • asthma, wheezing, or other breathing problems;

  • heart problems;

  • kidney disease;

  • a weak immune system (or if someone in your household has a weak immune system);

  • diabetes;

  • if you have recently taken oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), amantadine (Symmetrel), or rimantadine (Flumadine); or

  • if you are under 18 years old and have recently taken aspirin.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

FluMist is not recommended for use in pregnant women. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women get a flu shot during any trimester of pregnancy to protect themselves and their newborn babies from flu.

Receiving this vaccine is not expected to be harmful if you are breast-feeding a baby.

FluMist is not approved for anyone younger than 2 years or older than 49 years of age.

How is FluMist given?

FluMist is given as a nasal spray into each nostril. A healthcare provider will give you this vaccine. A child receiving this vaccine may need a repeat dose 1 month after receiving the first vaccine.

You should receive a flu vaccine every year. Your immunity will gradually decrease over the 12 months after you receive FluMist nasal vaccine. Children receiving FluMist may need a booster dose one month after receiving the first vaccine.

The FluMist is usually given in October or November. Some people may need to have their vaccines earlier or later. Follow your doctor's instructions.

FluMist dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Influenza Prophylaxis:

Through 49 years old:
1 dose (0.2 mL), intranasally, once per influenza season - administer 0.1 mL per nostril.

Usual Geriatric Dose for Influenza Prophylaxis:

50 years and older: not recommended.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Influenza Prophylaxis:

2 to 8 years:
1 or 2 doses (0.2 mL), intranasally, per influenza season - administer 0.1 mL per nostril
-If using 2 doses, administer at least 1 month apart
-Use Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices annual recommendations to determine number of doses

9 years and older:
1 dose (0.2 mL), intranasally, once per influenza season - administer 0.1 mL per nostril.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since FluMist is usually given only one time per year, you will most likely not be on a dosing schedule. Call your doctor if you forget to receive your yearly vaccination in October or November.

If your child misses a booster dose of this vaccine, call your doctor for instructions.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving FluMist?

For at least 21 days after receiving FluMist, avoid close contact with anyone who has a weak immune system caused by disease (such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS), or by caused by using medication such as steroids, immunosuppressants, cancer chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. A person with a weak immune system can become ill if they have close contact with you after you have recently received a live vaccine.

For at least 2 weeks after receiving this vaccine, avoid using antiviral flu medications (such as Tamiflu, Relenza, and others.

FluMist side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to FluMist: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

You should not receive a booster dose of this vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first dose.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. If you ever receive FluMist in the future, you will need to tell the doctor if the first vaccine caused any side effects.

FluMist is a live virus vaccine and may cause you to have mild flu-like symptoms. However, you may have flu-like symptoms at any time during flu season that may be caused by other strains of influenza virus.

Call a doctor at once or seek emergency medical attention if the person who has received this vaccine has wheezing or trouble breathing.

Common FluMist side effects include:

  • fever over 100 degrees F;

  • chills;

  • runny or stuffy nose;

  • sore throat, cough;

  • loss of appetite;

  • muscle pain;

  • headache; or

  • feeling tired or irritable.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

What other drugs will affect FluMist?

Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Many drugs can affect nasal flu vaccine, and some drugs should not be used at the same time. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use FluMist only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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