Common Myths About LAIV (FluMist®) for Seasonal Flu
Myth: You can get the flu from LAIV.
Fact: You cannot get the flu from a LAIV vaccination. LAIV (commonly called FluMist) is a live, weakened vaccine, which means it is made from a live virus that has been designed so as not to cause the flu. The weakened viruses are cold-adapted, which means they are designed to replicate at the cooler temperatures found within the nose.
Myth: LAIV virus can be easily spread by me to others and make them sick.
Fact: It is harder than it seems to transmit the vaccine virus. This concern is greatly over-estimated and is a theoretical risk, since several unlikely events would need to occur in order for a LAIV recipient to spread virus and then causes a clinical infection in others.
Myth: I should not take LAIV 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 LAIV 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 LAIV 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: LAIV 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.
Myth: I cannot get LAIV because I am breastfeeding.
Fact: Women who are breastfeeding can receive LAIV as long as they are healthy and do not have any underlying conditions and are not pregnant again.
Myth: LAIV contains thimerosal.
Fact: The seasonal nasal-spray flu vaccine does not contain thimerosal or any other preservative.