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influenza virus vaccine (nasal)

Pronunciation: in floo ENZ a VYE rus VAK seen

Brand: FluMist 2012-2013

What is the most important information I should know about this vaccine?

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The nasal influenza virus vaccine is a "live virus" vaccine. Influenza virus vaccine is also available in an injectable form, which is a "killed virus" vaccine. This medication guide addresses only the nasal spray form of this vaccine.

For at least 21 days after receiving nasal influenza virus vaccine, avoid close contact with anyone who has a weak immune system caused by disease (such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS), or by certain medicines such as steroids, cancer chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. A person with a weak immune system can become ill if they have close contact with you after you have recently received an influenza vaccine.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

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Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. If you ever need to receive influenza virus vaccine in the future, you will need to tell your doctor if the previous dose caused any side effects.

Nasal influenza virus (live virus) vaccine may cause you to have mild flu-like symptoms. However, you may have flu-like symptoms at any time during flu season that may be caused by strains of influenza virus that are not contained in the vaccine.

Becoming infected with influenza is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Like any vaccine, influenza virus vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person. This vaccine will not prevent illness caused by avian flu ("bird flu").

What is influenza virus nasal vaccine?

Influenza virus (commonly known as "the flu") is a serious disease caused by a virus. Influenza virus can spread from one person to another through small droplets of saliva that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also be passed through contact with objects the infected person has touched, such as a door handle or other surfaces.

Nasal influenza virus vaccine is used to prevent infection caused by influenza virus. The vaccine is redeveloped each year to contain specific strains of activated (live) flu virus that are recommended by public health officials for that year.

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The nasal influenza virus vaccine is a "live virus" vaccine. Influenza virus vaccine is also available in an injectable form, which is a "killed virus" vaccine.

Influenza virus vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the virus, which helps your body to develop immunity to the disease. Influenza virus vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

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Nasal influenza virus vaccine is for use in children and adults, between the ages of 2 and 49 years old.

Becoming infected with influenza is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. Influenza causes thousands of deaths each year, and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Like any vaccine, influenza virus vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person. This vaccine will not prevent illness caused by avian flu ("bird flu").

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving this vaccine?

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You may not be able to receive this vaccine if you are allergic to eggs, or if you have:

  • a history of severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine;
  • a history of Guillian-Barre syndrome (within 6 weeks after receiving a flu vaccine);
  • a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments;
  • if someone in your household has a weak immune system; or
  • if you are under 18 years old and have recently taken aspirin or other similar medicines such as Nuprin Backache Caplet, Kaopectate, KneeRelief, Pamprin Cramp Formula, Pepto-Bismol, Tricosal, Trilisate, and others.

To make sure influenza virus nasal vaccine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • asthma or other lung disorder;
  • a history of seizures;
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine); or
  • if you have used a flu medication such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) within the past 48 hours.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

Vaccines may be harmful to an unborn baby and generally should not be given to a pregnant woman. However, not vaccinating the mother could be more harmful to the baby if the mother becomes infected with a disease that this vaccine could prevent. Your doctor will decide whether you should receive this vaccine, especially if you have a high risk of infection with influenza.

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It is not known whether influenza virus nasal vaccine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

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This vaccine should not be given to anyone younger than 2 or older than 49 years of age.

How is this vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as a nasal spray into each nostril. A healthcare provider will give you this vaccine.

You should receive a flu vaccine every year. Your immunity will gradually decrease over the 12 months after you receive the influenza virus vaccine. Children receiving this vaccine may need a repeat dose two months after receiving the first vaccine.

The influenza virus vaccine is usually given in October or November. Some people may need to have their vaccines earlier or later. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Your doctor may recommend treating fever and pain with an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) when the vaccine is given and for the next 24 hours. Follow the label directions or your doctor's instructions about how much of this medicine to take.

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It is especially important to prevent fever from occurring if you have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since influenza virus vaccine is usually given only one time per year, you will most likely not be on a dosing schedule. Call your doctor if you forget to receive your yearly vaccination in October or November.

If your child misses a booster dose of this vaccine, call your doctor for instructions.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?

For at least 21 days after receiving nasal influenza virus vaccine, avoid close contact with anyone who has a weak immune system caused by disease (such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS), or by certain medicines such as steroids, cancer chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. A person with a weak immune system can become ill if they have close contact with you after you have recently received a an influenza vaccine.

For at least 2 weeks after receiving this vaccine, avoid using antiviral medications that are normally used to treat flu symptoms, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza).

What are the possible side effects of influenza virus nasal vaccine?

Nasal influenza virus (live virus) vaccine may cause you to have mild flu-like symptoms. However, you may have flu-like symptoms at any time during flu season that may be caused by strains of influenza virus that are not contained in the vaccine.

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You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first dose.

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Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. If you ever need to receive another nasal influenza virus vaccine in the future, you will need to tell the doctor if the first vaccine caused any side effects.

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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe weakness or unusual feeling in your arms and legs (may occur 2 to 4 weeks after you receive the vaccine); or
  • high fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms.

Common side effects include:

  • low fever;
  • runny or stuffy nose;
  • sore throat, cough;
  • headache;
  • feeling tired or irritable;
  • vomiting; or
  • muscle pain.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

What other drugs will affect influenza virus nasal vaccine?

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Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:

  • an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
  • medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders--azathioprine, etanercept, leflunomide, and others; or
  • medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection--basiliximab, cyclosporine, muromonab-CD3, mycophenolate mofetil, sirolimus, tacrolimus.

If you are using any of these medications, you may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect influenza virus nasal vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist may have information about nasal influenza virus vaccine written for health professionals that you may read. You may also find additional information from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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