Published December 12, 2012
It had been about eight years since I got a flu shot. I never felt good after them and no matter what the doctor said to the contrary, I always felt flu-ish afterward.
My children, certainly, have gotten the flu after the flu shot. It happens every single year.
For the last eight years, I have gotten the flu. Not just a cold, but influenza, the kind that has me bed-bound for days, and weak and lethargic for another couple of weeks. When I get the flu, it knocks me down hard.
So this year I decided that five weeks of sickness last winter wasn't going to happen again. But I didn't want the shot.
At EmpowHER, we have received hundreds of questions and complaints about pain in the upper arm after getting flu shots, so many that I won't get one after reading some of their stories.
Many have been in pain for several years now and others have gone through months of physical therapy as a result of wrongly-placed shots.
Many of our members have complained to the CDC about this issue.
Due to this hot topic on EmpowHER, I elected to have the newer option known as the flu mist vaccine or as most people call it, the sniffer shot.
I sniffed from a thin nasal tube one nostril at a time. A few big sniffs to get the vaccination up through my nose and about three seconds later, that was it. No needles, pain-free and no potential pain in the upper arm down the line.
So is there a difference between the shot? Are both equally effective?
Pretty much, although there is some evidence that the sniffer shot may be more effective for children. There are more restrictions, however, on who can elect to use the spray mist instead of the shot.
For the mist, my nurse told me, you have to be aged between 2 and 49 and be in good health with no chance of pregnancy. Those with weakened immune systems, who've had heart or kidney disease or upper respiratory conditions aren't good candidates.
Like the regular flu shot, a bad allergy to eggs would mean I couldn't get the shot.
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I asked if there was a risk of getting the flu like there is for the flu shot (that contains no live virus but I still swear to my kids getting ill within hours).
I was told that yes, there was the possibility of getting ill due the flu mist containing a live virus, albeit a weak one. Fortunately for me, I felt fine and got no symptoms at all.
Anyone who has Guillain-Barré syndrome can't get the mist. You can read more on this syndrome and why there is an issue with vaccinations her. Make sure the person issuing the shot doesn't do it at the top of the arm by the shoulder. It should be at least two finger widths down from the top of the shot.
It's not good for people who truly fear needles, nor for babies under six months old. And there are the same restrictions for those with Guillian-Barré Syndrome and egg allergies. Since the mist is only available (for now) to those under the age of 49, anyone older will have to have the shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it's very important that the follow people get the flu shot:
• Children aged 6 months - 4 years (59 months)
• People 50 years and older
• People with chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
• People who are immunosuppressed (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus)
• Women who are or may be pregnant during the influenza season
• Children aged 6 months to 18 years receiving long-term aspirin therapy who might be at risk for Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
• American Indians/Alaska Natives
• People who are morbidly obese (body mass index of 40 or greater)
• Health care personnel
• Household contacts and caregivers of children aged younger than 5 years and adults aged 50 years and older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged younger than 6 months
• Household contacts and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza
It's a personal choice for most as to whether to get the flu shot. For me, the mist was definitely the best option and I will likely choose it again next year.
I easily fit the criteria of who should get it, but for others, there are obvious reasons to stick with the traditional jab. Either way, let's hope for a healthy winter season for all.