h1n1 nasal spray vaccine myths


Myth: You can get the flu from FluMist.
Fact: You cannot get the flu from a FluMist vaccination. FluMist is a live, attenuated virus that cannot replicate at body temperature and cannot cause the flu.

Myth: FluMist virus can be easily spread by me to others making them sick.
Fact: It is harder than it seems to transmit the vaccine virus. This concern is greatly over estimated, since several unlikely events would need to occur in order for a FluMist recipient to spread virus that then causes a clinical infection in others:

  • The person must shed the virus from their nose.
  • The amount of virus shed would need to be large enough to cause spread of infection.
  • If the FluMist virus is spread to another person, it must become able to reproduce in the temperature of the lower airways.
  • After the first three steps occur then the FluMist virus would have to regain its ability to cause disease.

Myth: I should not take FluMist because I live or work in close contact with an unvaccinated person at high-risk to develop influenza.
Fact: Household contacts can help protect high-risk individuals by getting vaccinated. You are not helping your high-risk loved one by foregoing vaccination. It is safe for FluMist recipients to have close household contact with high-risk individuals with the sole exception of those so severely immunosuppressed that they require a special protective environment (i.e. patients with a stem cell transplant receiving care on a positive-pressure hospital ward). It is safe for FluMist recipients to have close household contact with high-risk individuals with chronic illnesses, including diabetes, liver disease, heart disease and even other forms of immunosupression such as HIV-infected patients and organ transplant recipients.

Myth: FluMist makes everyone who gets it sick in some way.
Fact: There is a higher rate of certain cold symptoms following vaccination with FluMist, such as a runny nose, but many people report no symptoms at all.

The above factual information about FluMist was provided by Melanie Swift, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and medical director of the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic, and Thomas Talbot, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and preventive medicine and associate hospital epidemiologist.