Influenza Virus Vaccine Live (Nasal)

Live influenza vaccine contains activated strains of the flu virus, which help the body to develop an immunity to that virus and provide protection for the flu season.

Overview

Influenza live vaccine contains actual activated strains of certain flu viruses in tiny amounts that do not harm the body but cause it to develop an immunity to it. When a stronger version of that influenza comes along at some point, the body is then ready to defend itself against that flu. Influenza is easily passed from one person to another, commonly through sneezing or coughing, and once several people in a given area begin doing that, it spreads like wildfire to infect many more.

Each flu season, a different strain of live virus is developed by doctors and scientists, in anticipation of the expected prevalence of a specific strain coming that year. Patients aged between 2 and 49 years old can benefit from this vaccine and can stave off the very serious health issues associated with influenza.

The live form of this medication can be administered as a spray, while the injectable form contains a 'ňúdead' virus, and will be administered with a needle and syringe. Influenza itself is a powerful disease that can affect the throat, bronchial tubes, and the lungs, and it causes health problems such as coughs, headaches, muscle pains, and fevers. People with weakened immune systems, for instance many seniors, can develop even worse health problems because their bodies simply cannot fight the virus effectively. There are many people who die from having contracted this virus every year, and that's why the vaccination against it is so important.

It is important to note that you should be vaccinated early in the season, usually at the beginning of November, in order to be protected. If you have already contracted influenza, the vaccination will be ineffective, and will not provide any protection at all. It is also not 100% effective for all patients, and some may still develop whatever kind of flu is circulating in a given season.

Condition Treated

  • Influenza

Type Of Medicine

  • Vaccine

Side Effects

Along with its beneficial effects, there can be some undesirable side effects imparted by live influenza vaccine to patients. In 1976, a number of patients who were vaccinated with the influenza vaccine eventually developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which is a disease that has the potential to cause temporary paralysis. Even though almost all of these people recovered from the temporary paralysis, the swine flu vaccine which was included in the 1976 influenza vaccine has been dropped from the seasonal vaccine ever since. While it has never been proven that the swine flu component caused the temporary paralysis disease, it is certain that no such paralysis symptoms have ever been observed since it has been excluded from the annual vaccine.

That, of course, would be considered a very serious side effect of being vaccinated with the live influenza medication, but there's at least one other very serious side effect which you should watch for after being vaccinated. If you suspect that you are having an allergic reaction to live influenza vaccine, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible, because there is a potential for the symptoms to worsen to the point where they could become life-threatening. The side effects to look for in an allergic reaction are as follows:

  • Tightening of the chest, usually accompanied by severe difficulty with breathing
  • Hives and/or rashes appearing on skin surfaces
  • Extreme itchiness at various sites around the body
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness, with the sensation that you may be about to faint
  • Extreme puffiness or swelling in the eyelids, or in the tongue, lips, or throat.

Some of the other side effects which have been reported by patients being treated with live influenza vaccine include the following:

  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Skin rashes
  • Stiffness in the back or in the neck
  • Unusual weakness or fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Muscle weakness and the facial area
  • Chest pain which seems to move into the left arm, shoulder, or neck
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Diarrhea
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Extreme itchiness
  • Inability to use legs and arms
  • Hoarseness
  • Severe headaches
  • Swelling of the eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the legs, arms, or shoulders
  • Unusual feeling of sluggishness or dullness
  • General feeling of illness
  • Skin which is pale or blue colored
  • Coughing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Chills and/or fevers
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Earaches
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing or tightness in the chest area
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tenderness around the cheekbones and the eyes, sometimes accompanied by pains in the same areas
  • Difficulty with swallowing or breathing
  • Hives or rashes
  • Reddish tinge to the skin, notably in the area of the ears
  • Extreme itchiness of the hands or feet.

Dosage

This vaccine is issued with an information guide intended for use by the patient, and it is very important that every patient who receives the live virus vaccine reads this and understands the contents thoroughly. If there's anything contained in the insert which you do not understand, make sure to question your doctor about it before you are treated with the live virus vaccine.

This medication will always be administered by a trained medical professional, either your doctor or someone whom he/she has designated for the purpose. It is delivered as a nasal spray which is intended only for the nostrils, and if the spray should touch any other part of your bodies such as the nose or eyes, it must be flushed out immediately with water. Before you are treated with the live influenza virus vaccine, you should gently blow your nose to ensure that the nostrils are cleared out prior to application.

Nasal dosages administered to patients should follow the guidelines listed below:

  • This medication is not recommended for geriatric patients who are above the age of 50.
  • For adult patients up to the age of 49, one dosage of .2 mL should be delivered via intranasal route once during the season, and of the .2 mL total, there should be .1 mL delivered to each nostril.
  • For pediatric patients between the ages of two and eight, one or two separate doses of .2 mL should be delivered via intranasal route during the flu season, with .1 mL administered to each nostril. If two separate doses are to be administered, they must be one month apart.
  • For pediatric patients aged nine years old and above, one dosage of .2 mL should be delivered via intranasal route during the flu season, with .1 mL per nostril being administered in total.

Interactions

There is a possibility that influenza live vaccine may interact with other medications you are taking, and this is a situation which is to be avoided since it can lead to adverse side effects being imparted to you as the patient. Even if it causes no adverse side effects, when two drugs interact there is a potential for the effectiveness of one or both being diminished.

To avoid either of these scenarios, it's a good idea for you to prepare a list of all medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, other prescription medications, and herbal supplements, so that your doctor can review it. Once your doctor has reviewed this list of medications, he/she can decide whether or not any of the medications on your list need to be discontinued temporarily or used in a lesser dosage so as to avoid any interaction. This list will also be handy for you if you need to make an emergency trip to the health care clinic or emergency room for unscheduled treatment. By showing this list to a doctor there, they will be able to prescribe treatment for you without running the risk of prescribing a medication which might interact with the drug you're taking.

Some of the most commonly checked medications for potential interaction are those on this list:

  • Deflazacort
  • Aspirin
  • Adalimumab
  • Alemtuzumab
  • Dasatinib
  • Dacarbazine
  • Docetaxel
  • Everolimus
  • Idarubicin
  • Hydroxyurea
  • Fluorouracil
  • Fludarabine
  • Fingolimod
  • Bendamustine
  • Capecitabine
  • Bortezomib
  • Bosutinib
  • Cabazitaxel
  • Cytarabine liposome
  • Cytarabine
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Cladribine
  • Etoposide
  • Fludarabine
  • Gemcitabine
  • Gemtuzumab ozogamicin
  • Golimumab
  • Etanercept
  • Epirubicin
  • Daunorubicin
  • Daunorubicin citrate liposome
  • Cisplatin
  • Golimumab
  • Certolizumab pegol
  • Carmustine
  • Capecitabine
  • Carboplatin
  • Carfilzomib
  • Warfarin
  • Topotecan
  • Tositumomab
  • Trabectedin
  • Ifosfamide
  • Imatinib
  • Mycophenolic acid
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Mitomycin
  • Rituximab
  • Rilonacept
  • Procarbazine
  • Ponatinib
  • Paclitaxel
  • Temozolomide
  • Vinblastine
  • Vinorelbine
  • Infliximab
  • Ofutumumab
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Paclitaxel
  • Irinotecan
  • Interferon alpha
  • Immune globulin
  • Infliximab
  • Leflunomide
  • Lomustine
  • Mechlorethamine
  • Melphalan
  • Nelarabine
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Mercaptopurine
  • Secukinumab
  • Teniposdie
  • Sirolimus
  • Temozolomide
  • Methotrexate
  • Irinotecan
  • Irinotecan liposome
  • Teriflunomide
  • Rituximab.

Warnings

There are a few precautions which should be observed by patients being treated with live influenza vaccine, and of course for any pediatric patients as well. If your child is being treated with the live vaccine, it is extremely important that he/she returns to the doctor's office for the second scheduled treatment of the medication. If any side effects should occur for either yourself or your child after receiving the flu vaccine, you should report them to your doctor as soon as possible.

This vaccine should not be administered to any children between the ages of two and 17 who may also be using medications which contain aspirin, such as Excedrin, Soma, Ecotrin, Aggrenox, and many other medications used for the treatment of colds and influenza. Children should also not be allowed to take aspirin for one month after receiving FluMist or FluMist Quadrivalent unless a doctor's recommendation has explicitly allowed this. Children under the age of two should not be given the nasal mist form of this vaccine, and patients of this age will generally be given a shot instead.

There is a potential for the influenza live vaccine to trigger a dangerous allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can be a life-threatening medical condition. If you suspect you're having an allergic reaction to the vaccine, you should notify medical personnel immediately, before symptoms have a chance to worsen. An allergic reaction is generally characterized by swelling of the eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat, itchiness around the body, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, sudden appearance of hives or rashes, and extreme dizziness or lightheadedness.

You should be aware that the nasal form of this medication, FluMist or FluMist Quadrivalent, contains an actual living virus, which means you need to avoid coming into contact with people who are already sick, or are at risk of becoming sick. Since you are carrying a tiny amount of live virus, there's potential for you to pass this on to a sick person and cause their condition to be significantly degraded. If you have any concerns in this area, you should discuss them thoroughly with your doctor before being treated with the live vaccine, so that an alternate strategy may be considered.

This medication will not be effective on flu symptoms if you already have influenza, and will only provide protection for you if you have received the vaccine before any symptoms appear. There is also a chance that you may not receive protection from the vaccine even if it is received before you develop influenza since the live vaccine is not 100% effective on all persons who are treated.

Studies conducted on animal populations which have been treated with live influenza vaccine do not show any evidence of harm imparted to a fetus, and there are no controlled studies which are been conducted on human populations. Even though there is no information available which indicates potential harm to a pregnant mother or fetus, it is advisable that you discuss with your doctor whether or not you should receive this vaccine if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.

However, it is known that the vaccine can be passed on to a nursing infant through breast milk, and although there is no evidence of adverse impact on a nursing infant, it should still be a matter of discussion with your family doctor.

Make sure to tell your doctor whether you have allergies, or whether you have ever had allergic reactions to pets, fabrics, foods, or preservatives because it's possible that the live vaccine may trigger your allergy and cause a serious medical condition.

It's always a good idea to discuss the benefits and the risks of taking any medication, and the live vaccine is no exception 'you should have this frank consultation with your doctor before agreeing to be treated with the live vaccine. Generally speaking, the benefits provided by protection against influenza will outweigh any other minor side effects imparted to a patient being treated with this medication. However, that may not hold true in all cases, since every patient reacts differently to a medication, and there may be something in your medical history which overrides the standard reaction.

Storage

This vaccine will be stored at a medical facility at all times, so there is no need for the patient to be concerned with storage procedures, or with proper disposal methods for unused medication. Since this is a live vaccine, it must be stored in a carefully controlled environment, or it will lose its effectiveness.

Summary

Influenza live vaccine is a medication which contains a tiny amount of activated influenza virus and is administered to a patient in a small amount so that the body will have a chance to develop immunity to that virus while it is in a relatively harmless state. Later, when the flu virus comes around, it will be in a much stronger volume, and would normally be much more capable of overwhelming the body's immune system.

For those patients who have been vaccinated against this possibility, however, they will be protected against the flu virus because of the developed immunity. It should be noted, however, that the vaccine must be taken prior to the arrival of the flu virus in a given area, and if the vaccine were to be taken after flu symptoms have already appeared, the vaccine would have no effect, and would not protect the patient. It is also true that not all patients are protected by this vaccine, even if it is received well before the arrival of the actual flu virus.

Adult patients generally need one dosage of this intranasal medication annually, with one spray being administered to each nostril. Pediatric patients sometimes require two separated doses of the live vaccine, and these must be administered at least one month apart. The optimum time for receiving your nasal live flu vaccine is sometime in November, prior to the onset of flu season.