FluMist vs. Flu Season: The Vaccination Without The Needle

Flu season is now upon us, and if last season’s flu severity is any indication of what’s to come, then getting vaccinated is more important than ever. Taking the needle, however, is still a daunting thought. New forms of flu shots have arisen to make the procedure as noninvasive as possible while encouraging more people to get vaccinated.

The FluMist vaccine may just change the way we protect ourselves from the flu. FluMist is a vaccination alternative that comes in a nasal spray, which is administered to vaccinate against diseases like influenza.

From 2016 to 2017, the first years when the FluMist was not available, there was a 41 percent decrease in the overall vaccination rate across public schools.

Students in public schools and colleges are in close quarters all day, meaning that they’re more likely to get sick than others.

Thankfully, this year the FluMist has been reinstated. All those with fears of the needle can now use the alternative to getting protected.  This change comes just in time, if not a little late, to combat the bad track record Florida has with preventing the flu outbreak.

Last year was one of the worst flu seasons in Florida’s history. The time has come once again for UF students to turn to health facilities for immunizations and curing reported symptoms.

By week four of flu season, the influenza hospitalization rate for the 2017-2018 season had surpassed the week four hospitalization rate for the 2014-2015 flu season. After having these astonishing sickness rates overcome the state of Florida, it’s vital that everyone do what they can to prevent getting the flu in the first place.

As far as preventing flu symptoms on campus, one of the primary sources of aid that UF students turn to is the University of Florida Student Health Care Center (SHCC). At this location, all students can receive the flu shot for free with their UF health care or personal insurance.

Cecilia Luna, marketing director of the SHCC, said that in October 2017, over 95 students reported cases of flu-like illness.

Luna said that students, especially college students, are at higher risk of exposure because of the multiple shared spaces and large crowds, but unlike the most affected groups, children and adults over 65, they can recover at a quicker rate.

In fact, children suffered the most during the flu season last year.

Except for the swine flu epidemic in 2009-2010, the record for largest number of reported flu deaths in children was held by the single season of 2012-2013 with about 171 pediatric deaths.

The number of pediatric deaths reached a new high of 179 as of August 2018. However, for the past two flu seasons, the vaccination alternative, FluMist, has not been available for children or anyone looking to avoid the needle.

From 2018 to 2018, the ACIP recommended that LAIV4 or Live attenuated influenza vaccines should not be distributed. The ACIP analyzed data from 2010-11 through 2016-17 and found that children were the least protected using this vaccination method.

According to the ACIP report, “During this period, LAIV was poorly effective among children aged 2 through 17 years against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses in the United States.”

Locally, the FluMist will be available in locations that provide free flu shots that have ordered the vaccination. Those looking to get the FluMist can receive the distribution at the closest CVS or pharmacy. Other locations like Walmart have similar financing but charge $40 if you have no insurance.

It is still possible to get sick after receiving the vaccination due to the two weeks it takes for the body to gain protection from the virus or exposure to a virus that isn’t covered in the vaccine. So the earlier you receive a vaccination, the better protected you are from getting sick.

There are preventative steps to take to remain in good health during the flu season whether you have or have not gotten the shot: refrain from touching points of entry on the face such as; eyes, mouth and nose, frequently wiping surfaces and hand washing for at least 20 seconds.

While it may seem so simple to forget about the flu and just believe that you won’t get sick, it’s better for everyone if you take the precaution. Even if it’s not severe for you, getting someone else sick after you carry the virus could be, as we’ve seen, deadly. Stay safe and healthy, collegiettes.