Until recently, you could only get the flu vaccine as an injection (a "flu shot"). However, in 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a nasal spray form of the flu vaccine called FluMist®, which you can get from your healthcare provider. The FDA approved FluMist for use in healthy people who are 5 to 49 years of age.
You should not use FluMist if:
- You have certain lung conditions, including asthma, or heart conditions
- You have metabolic disorders, such as diabetes or kidney dysfunction
- You have an immunodeficiency disease or you are on immunosuppressive treatment
- You have had Guillain-Barré syndrome
- You are pregnant
- You have a history of allergy or hypersensitivity to any of the parts of FluMist or to eggs
- You are a child or teenager who regularly takes aspirin or products containing aspirin.
Your immune system takes time to respond to the flu vaccine. Therefore, you should get vaccinated 6 to 8 weeks before flu season begins in November to prevent infection or to reduce the severity of the flu if you do get it. However, flu season usually lasts until March, so it is not too late to get the flu vaccine after the season has begun. The vaccine itself cannot cause the flu, but you could become exposed to the virus by someone else and get infected soon after you are vaccinated.