Flu Mist or Flu Shot?

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - 'Tis the season to get sick and flu season is in full swing.  If you haven't yet received the flu vaccine this year, it's not too late and a traditional shot is not the only means of protecting yourself from the virus.

McNeese State University Freshman Bethanie Fontenot has taken her interest in helping people to her curriculum as a nursing student.  As part of Memorial Hospital's extern program for nursing students, Bethanie knew she would have to take some extra precautions this flu season.  "I'm in close contact with other patients at the hospital where I work," says Bethanie, "and I felt like it would be to my benefit to get the flu vaccine."

Bethanie had never gotten a flu vaccination before and she's not a fan of shots.  "I absolutely hate shots," says Bethanie, "I don't know anybody that does actually like shots."

For people like Bethanie, shots are no longer the only option to help you fight the flu. Dr. Danette Burnett Null with the LSU-HSC Family Medicine Residency Program explains the two available flu vaccines.  "There's the injection, which is an inactive virus and then you have the flu mist," says Dr. Null, "which is a nasal weakened live virus."

With the flu shot, the killed virus is given with a needle and is approved for people ages six months on up.  The nasal-spray flu vaccine is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu and can be used by healthy people ages two to 29.  "The nasal live attenuated virus vaccination is a little bit better in the fact that it is a live virus," says Dr. Null, "so you're going to get a little bit more of an immune response."

Bethanie chose this option rather than a shot and says she saw very minimal side effects.  "I had a little bit of stuffiness for the first ten minutes," says Bethanie, "and then after that it went away...no other side effects."

Whether you choose the flu shot or flu mist, the important thing is that you get a vaccine. Flu season lasts through March and can land you in the hospital if you don't take care of yourself.

*On top of the flu vaccine, there are preventive actions you can take each day to minimize your risk for catching a cold or the flu: cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands often.