FluMist (influenza vaccine live, intranasal) is a vaccine that’s used to help prevent influenza (the flu). FluMist comes as a nasal spray that’s given by a healthcare professional.

FluMist is given to some adults and children to help prevent flu from the influenza A or B virus.

FluMist is a brand-name vaccine. It’s not currently available in a generic form.

To learn more about the drug’s uses, see the “What is FluMist used for?” section below.

Like most drugs, FluMist may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that FluMist may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:

  • your age
  • other health conditions you have
  • other medications you take

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of FluMist. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects that FluMist can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist or read FluMist’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects of FluMist that have been reported include:

  • runny nose or congestion
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • cough
  • decreased appetite
  • fatigue (low energy)
  • mild allergic reaction*

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from FluMist can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from FluMist, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

A severe allergic reaction is a possible serious side effect of FluMist. To learn more, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to FluMist.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause difficulty breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to FluMist. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

FluMist is given to certain adults and children to help prevent influenza (flu) from the influenza A or B virus. Specifically, FluMist can be given to people in the age range of 2–49 years old.

FluMist is a vaccine that helps prevent the flu. It’s not known exactly how FluMist works, but it’s believed to help prevent flu by forming antibodies against the flu.

FluMist is a live vaccine. This means it contains live flu viruses that have been weakened, so they shouldn’t cause flu.

If you have questions about receiving the FluMist vaccine, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Your doctor will recommend the dosage of FluMist that’s right for you. Below are commonly prescribed dosages, but the dosage you receive will be determined by your doctor.

Form and strength

FluMist is available as a nasal spray that contains 0.2 milliliters (mL) of liquid solution.

Recommended dosage

The recommended dosage of FluMist for adults is one dose per flu season. The dose is split into two sprays (0.1 mL per spray), one in each nostril. For children ages 2–8 years old, two doses may be recommended. Children ages 9 years and older will usually receive the adult dosage of FluMist (one dose per flu season).

To learn how many doses are best for your child, talk with their doctor or a pharmacist.

How it’s given

You’ll receive the vaccine at either your doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or a clinic. A healthcare professional will administer your dose of FluMist by giving you one spray of FluMist into each nostril.

It’s important to note that when you get your dose of FluMist, you do not need to inhale the vaccine or change your breathing. You can continue to breathe as you usually would while receiving your dose.

Below is important information you should consider before getting FluMist.

Interactions

Taking a drug with certain medications, vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.

Before starting FluMist treatment, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also, tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you take. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

FluMist can interact with several other medications. See below for details.

Drug interactions

Below is a list of medications that can interact with FluMist. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with FluMist. If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Drug group or drug nameDrug examples
aspirin or drugs containing aspirin• aspirin
• acetaminophen/aspirin/caffeine (Excedrin)
• citric acid/sodium bicarbonate/aspirin (Alka-Seltzer)
antiviral drugs that treat the flu• oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
• zanamivir (Relenza)
• peramivir (Rapivab)
• rimantadine
• amantadine
certain other vaccines*meningitis vaccine
pneumonia vaccine
hepatitis A vaccine

* It’s not known whether it’s safe to receive FluMist with other vaccines. If you need to receive a vaccine around the same time as FluMist, talk with your doctor or pharmacist first to make sure it’s safe to receive with FluMist.

FluMist and alcohol

Alcohol is not known to interact with FluMist. If you have questions about drinking alcohol after receiving FluMist, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend receiving live vaccines during pregnancy, including FluMist. (Live vaccines contain a weakened form of the virus or bacterium they’re meant to protect against.)

Instead of FluMist, a flu shot is recommend during pregnancy. The flu shot is an inactive vaccine, which means it doesn’t contain any flu virus.

However, FluMist is given as a nasal spray and isn’t absorbed throughout the body. So a fetus will not likely be exposed to the drug.

It’s likely safe to get a dose of FluMist while breastfeeding. Because the drug isn’t absorbed throughout the body, it’s not likely to affect a child who is breastfed.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant or to breastfeed, talk with your doctor or pharmacist before getting a dose of FluMist.

Warnings

FluMist can sometimes cause harmful effects in people who have certain conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether FluMist is a good vaccine option for you.

Talk with your doctor about your health history before you receive FluMist. Be sure to tell them if any of the following factors apply to you:

  • have had Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • have (or live with someone who has) a weakened immune system
  • lung problems
  • wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • kidney problems
  • heart problems
  • diabetes
  • children or young adults who regularly take aspirin
  • past allergic reaction to FluMist or any ingredient in FluMist, including eggs
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding

Find answers to some commonly asked questions about FluMist.

Does FluMist cause long-term side effects?

It’s not likely. In general, side effects reported with FluMist are short term. Examples include runny nose, headache, and sore throat. These side effects may last for days or weeks after receiving your dose, but they should ease over time.

If you experience a side effect from FluMist that isn’t easing, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

How does FluMist compare with Fluzone?

Both FluMist and Fluzone are given to help prevent flu from the influenza A or B virus. But these vaccines have several differences.

FluMist is a live vaccine. This means it contains weakened forms of flu viruses. Fluzone, on the other hand, is an inactive vaccine. This means it does not have any flu virus in it.

The age ranges for who can receive these vaccines also differ. FluMist is given to people ages 2–49 years. Fluzone can be given to children ages 6 months and older and all adults. Adults ages 65 years and older may receive a different form of Fluzone called Fluzone High-Dose.

Another difference is that FluMist is given as a nasal spray, while Fluzone is given as an injection into a muscle.

If you have other questions about how FluMist and Fluzone compare, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help find the best option for you.

Is FluMist used for COVID-19?

No, FluMist is not given to prevent or treat COVID-19. This vaccine is given only to help prevent flu from the influenza A or B virus.

If you’re interested in a vaccine to help prevent COVID-19, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can recommend the best vaccine for you.

Whether you have health insurance or not, cost may be a factor when you’re considering FluMist. What you’ll pay for FluMist may depend on several things, such as where you receive the vaccine.

You can visit Optum Perks to get price estimates of what you’d pay for FluMist when using coupons from the site. See the coupon options below. (Note: Optum Perks coupons cannot be used with any insurance copays or benefits.)

If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.

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Retail price refers to the manufacturer’s published list price and is up to date as of 3/2023. Retail and discounted prices are U.S.-only and can vary based on region and pharmacy. We cannot guarantee that the discounted price listed here will exactly match the price at your pharmacy. Please contact your pharmacy for the exact price.

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Other vaccines are available that can help prevent the flu. If you’d like to explore an alternative to FluMist, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other options that might work well for you.

The following vaccines are similar to FluMist:

  • Fluzone
  • Afluria
  • Fluarix
  • Flucelvax
  • Fluad

If you have questions about receiving FluMist, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Questions you may want to ask include:

  • How can I manage side effects that I experience from FluMist?
  • Will my child need one dose or two doses of this vaccine?
  • Do any of my medications interact with FluMist?
  • If FluMist is too expensive for me, what other options do I have?

To get information on different conditions and tips for improving your health, subscribe to any of Healthline’s newsletters. You may also want to check out the online communities at Bezzy. It’s a place where people with certain conditions can find support and connect with others.

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.