Those who fear needles now have a chance to get relief from the flu in a form that circumvents their fear of injections. Last summer, the FDA approved MedImmune, Inc’s creation called FluMist. FluMist is the first flu vaccination that is in a nasal spray form rather than an injection. However, FluMist should be regarded with caution for it can potentially have hidden dangers for its user and the people around them.
Unlike many traditionally injected flu vaccines, which use inactive viruses to stimulate the body’s immune system, FluMist sprays weakened viruses into the mucous membranes to stimulate antibody production. Once a patient has used FluMist, they are contagious to other people for up to three weeks. FluMist is marketed to healthy people between the ages of 5 and 49 who are not pregnant, because the vaccine has the ability to cause infections in people with weak immune systems.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, many Tampa Bay area hospitals are concerned by this and have taken preventative measures. Workers at St. Anthony’s Hospital, Bayfront Medical Center, Morton Plant Hospital, as well as many others, have created a rule that employees cannot work for the three weeks following a FluMist treatment. Many hospitals also have adopted a policy of not allowing FluMist patients to have elective surgery, as well as isolating patients that have recently received the treatment.
Exposure to the flu virus could possibly cause complications in patients that have cancer, are transplant recipients, are infected with HIV or have other immunosuppressed conditions.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that the chances of getting the flu from FluMist is as low as 2.4 percent, and due to the FluMist virus being weakened it is even less likely that it could turn into a serious infection. Patients should be warned though, FluMist costs up to five times more than normal vaccinations.
It would appear that the chances of a person getting ill from a FluMist patient are slim, but hospitals are correct in taking all precautions to prevent any of their weakened patients with weakened immune systems from becoming infected. It is always better to be safe than sorry when one’s health is at stake.