What kind of flu vaccines are there?

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Diana K. Blythe, MD
Pediatrics
Flu vaccines come as a shot or as a nasal spray. Most people can receive the flu shot. People with certain chronic diseases cannot receive the nasal spray because it is a live virus vaccine.
There are two types of flu vaccines:

1. The flu shot -- an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.

There are three different flu shots available:
  • a regular flu shot approved for people ages 6 months and older
  • a high-dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older, and
  • an intradermal flu shot approved for people 18 to 64 years of age.
2. The nasal-spray flu vaccine -- a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

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