Post Content

As of this week, we have received more than 1.5 million doses of H1N1 vaccine in the state. Like every other state, more than 1 out of every 5 doses we receive is in the nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine) formulation. While some residents have expressed concern about the safety of the H1N1 nasal spray, DPH would like to assure everyone that LAIV is a safe and effective vaccine option for healthy people 2 years through 49 years of age who are not pregnant. This vaccine is also safe for breastfeeding mothers.

Questions often arise about LAIV because it contains live viruses. These viruses, however, are attenuated (weakened) and cannot cause the flu. Any side effects that may arise from the nasal spray, such as runny nose or sore throat, are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of the flu itself. In addition, studies have shown that transmission of vaccine viruses, or shedding, to close contacts occurred very rarely. The CDC estimates that risk of getting infected with the flu virus after close contact with a person vaccinated with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is extremely low.

In addition, nearly all healthy, non-pregnant health care workers, including those who come in contact with newborn infants, pregnant women, persons with a solid organ transplant, persons receiving chemotherapy (not in preparation for a bone marrow transplant), and persons with HIV/AIDS, may receive the nasal spray vaccine if they are eligible. However, LAIV should not be used for health care personnel who care for patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation (i.e., patients who require a protected environment). Although no immunocompromised patient has been harmed by use of LAIV among health care workers, the recommendation is intended as an extra precaution for medically fragile immunocompromised patients.

However, there are certain people who should not receive the H1N1 nasal spray vaccine. These include:

  • People younger than 2 years of age;
  • Pregnant women;
  • People 50 years of age and older;
  • People with a medical condition that places them at higher risk for complications from influenza, including those with chronic heart or lung disease, such as asthma or reactive airways disease; people with medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney failure; or people with illnesses that weaken the immune system, or who take medications that can weaken the immune system;
  • Children younger than 5 years old with a history of recurrent wheezing;
  • Children or adolescents receiving aspirin therapy;
  • People who have had Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder of the nervous system, within 6 weeks of getting a flu vaccine.

People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs or who are allergic to any of the nasal spray vaccine components should not receive any type of influenza vaccine.

For additional information on the safety profile of the H1N1 nasal spray vaccine visit the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/nasalspray_qa.htm

We encourage all residents to utilize the comments section on this blog to engage with us and each other. While we cannot respond to every comment or question directly, we find them very helpful to understand your questions and concerns and plan for future posts.

Written By:


Communications Office

Recent Posts

Weekly Flu Report, January 20, 2017 posted on Jan 20

The latest weekly flu report indicates that rates of flu-like illness increased slightly over the past seven days. We’ve seen these rates head up and down over the past few weeks, which is an indication of how unpredictable flu can be. Here in New England, most flu   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, January 20, 2017

Folic Acid for the Future! posted on Jan 18

Folic Acid for the Future!

We all know the common New Year’s resolutions this time of year: losing weight, getting more organized and catching up on sleep are at the top of many people’s lists!  But chances are, many women, in particular, are overlooking an important addition to their list:   …Continue Reading Folic Acid for the Future!

Weekly Flu Report, January 13, 2017 posted on Jan 13

The latest weekly flu report shows a slight decrease in rates of flu-like illness in Massachusetts over the past 7 days. But flu can be unpredictable, and we’re not likely to see the peak of flu season until February or even March. So if you haven’t gotten a   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, January 13, 2017