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Flu mist or flu shot? A medical expert breaks down your best option

Duval County Health Department director says either is a good option this year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This year when considering getting vaccinated for the flu there are options: You can either get the flu shot or flu mist. 

Dr. Pauline Rolle, the director for the Duval County Health Department, said this flu season both are great options to protect you from the flu.

“All are being recommended this season. They have about the same effectiveness and so any of them are currently available and fine to take. It’s just a matter of preference,” Rolle said in an interview Tuesday on “The Morning Show.”

The flu shot is available for children as young as 6 months old, but the mist is only recommended for people aged 2 to 49 who are generally healthy. Some people might experience negative side effects from the mist and should beware.

“Particularly asthmatics, if they were to get the mist, they might experience wheezing, so it’s not recommended for them, but it does not give you the flu,” Rolle said. “Most of the time the side effects would include a runny nose. You might experience some muscle aches. Sometimes people confuse the side effects (from) the vaccine with (contracting) the flu, and that’s not the case.”

The flu vaccine changes every year based on the viruses that are predicted to be active that season. Sometimes the flu mist and the flu shot provide different levels of protection. The flu mist has been in question before.

“A couple of years ago, it was deemed to be not as effective as the injectable vaccine. This year, it is being equated with all other vaccines,” Rolle said. “So again, it is now available. Each year the vaccines are made to capture the flu virus that is most likely to circulate and so the flu mist again is back and on the market and it’s being advertised as being equitable to the other vaccines that are available, but it is not available for children younger than 2.”

Rolle points out that it’s your choice, but she recommends getting some type of protection, especially this year with COVID-19 circulating as well.

“I’ve heard that concern expressed, but some protection is better than no protection,” Rolle said. “You cannot guarantee what strain is circulating in a particular community, but the flu vaccine will protect you from the most common circulating viruses.”

Right now, the Duval Department of Health has vaccines for children but it’s still waiting for adult vaccines.


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