Can the nasal spray flu vaccine give me the flu?

Diana K. Blythe, MD

The nasal spray flu vaccine does not give you the flu. Because it is a live virus vaccine, although weakened, you may feel some effects like congestion in your nose. This is not the flu, but rather local effects of the vaccine at the cooler temperatures of your nose.

For people who are bothered by even these effects, try getting the flu shot instead!

The nasal spray flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. While it is made with live virus (as opposed to the killed virus used to make flu shots), the virus is weakened and designed only to infect areas where temperatures are cooler, such as the nose. It cannot infect the inside of your body, which is warmer. People tend to experience a few more side effects with the nasal vaccine than after a flu shot. Side effects can include a runny nose, sore throat, and headache.

Continue Learning about Vaccines & Immunizations

Vaccines & Immunizations

Vaccines & Immunizations

Vaccines are commonly given to children in the form of a shot to help prevent serious diseases like measles and mumps. Vaccines are developed using either dead strains of a disease, weakened strains, or strains of a different dise...

ase. As adults, we receive flu vaccines or may need a booster of childhood vaccines to retain immunity. Travelers may receive vaccines either as a condition of entry to a country, or on recommendation of health officials. Generally there is little or no reaction to a vaccine, but in some cases the vaccine may cause an allergic reaction or a temporary, mild illness. Some vaccines are not safe for pregnant women, so it’s important to check with a healthcare professional.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.