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Fact Check: Nasal flu vaccine does not spread the flu




Some social media posts falsely claim that the nasal flu vaccine, also known as the flu mist, spreads the flu.

Reuters fact check. Reuters/Axel Schmidt

You can see an example here And here ..

“Over 3 million children in the UK will get flu mists,” the post reads.

“Don’t forget, it’s alive. You can grab it from them and guess what, so grandma can also! This is a live virus they spray on your child [sic] nose. ”

“The flu mist spreads the flu. This keeps pharmaceutical companies in business.”

According to the British National Health Service, a vaccine for children is a spray containing live influenza virus that has been weakened to stimulate the immune system without causing disease (here).

However, the spray should not be given to children with certain allergies or severe asthma, whose immune system is severely debilitated.

A website managed by the Oxford Vaccine Group, an academic research group within Oxford University, the Vaccine Knowledge Project has no evidence that healthy, unvaccinated people can get the flu from vaccinated people (here).

For days after vaccination, children say they can shed the virus if they cough or sneeze. However, weakened viruses do not spread as easily as the natural influenza viruses that circulate in the population. It also cannot grow in the body. It also advises that the amount of virus released is usually too low to infect others and that the virus does not survive in vitro for long periods of time.

According to an April 2019 update, the government’s Green Book on Immunization Against Infectious Diseases contains the following paragraphs to consider the potential of Fluenz Tetra® Nasal Flu Spray to spread the flu (here):

“It is theoretically possible that live attenuated influenza virus of Fluenz Tetra® could infect immunocompromised contacts for 1-2 weeks after vaccination. Widespread use of LAIV (live attenuated influenza vaccine) in the United States Has not reported any cases of illness or infection due to a vaccine virus if an immunocompromised patient is inadvertently exposed.Very severely immunocompromised patients (eg bone marrow transplant patients requiring isolation). If there is a high likelihood or inevitable close contact with (for example, household members), then an appropriate alternative inactivated influenza vaccine should be considered.

A study by the British Public Health Service suggests that the vaccine reduced the population’s flu, rather than spreading it. Citing this study, the Vaccine Knowledge Project says that the influenza vaccine prevented 15-52% of influenza cases between 2015 and 2020 across all age groups, including children ( ).


No. The nasal flu vaccine contains a live flu virus that has been weakened so that it does not cause the flu in others.

This article was written by the Reuters Fact Check Team. Read more about the fact check process here    


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