Flu shots only for children this year, don't use nasal spray
Dear Mayo Clinic: I've always been told FluMist is just as effective as the flu shot for kids, so why isn't the mist available this year? Does that mean the shot is not likely to be very effective either?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all children 6 months and older. Mayo Clinic strongly endorses that recommendation. Depending on your child's age and health, you typically can choose between a flu shot and the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine. However, this year, only the flu shot is recommended because the spray has been relatively ineffective in recent flu seasons.
Influenza, usually called the flu, is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system. It's not the same as what people often refer to as "stomach flu," which causes diarrhea and vomiting. Common symptoms of the flu include a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, muscle aches, headache, a cough, a sore throat and fatigue.
Influenza often goes away on its own without any lasting problems. But, sometimes, influenza can be life-threatening. People at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu include children younger than 5 years old, adults older than 65, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.
Even if you're not in one of those categories, though, you still need a flu shot. While the flu may not cause lasting problems for you, you can spread it easily to others who may not fare as well. The best defense against influenza is getting the flu vaccine every year.