Flu Spray May Protect Better Than Shot

NOVEMBER 16, 2005 -- A new nasal spray provides flu shot protection without the shot.

The weakened live vaccine called Flumist triggers an immune response that helps ward off the virus. The most common side effect is a runny nose. Public health epidemiologist Dr. David Weber says research suggests the nasal flu vaccine may protect against additional strains of the illness.

"There is some evidence it is a somewhat more effective vaccine and for people who don't want to take a shot this is an alternative," says Dr. Weber.

Despite the prospect of extra protection and its no-needle appeal, the idea of the flu spray isn't exactly popular.

"Even last year when there was a shortage and they offered it up we couldn't get many people to take it, which was a bit disappointing actually," says Dr. Dennis Clements.

Dr. Clements says the vaccine is still too new for some people and notes that it is more expensive.

"I'm hoping there will be more use for it. I think the more ways we have of providing protection, we can do a better job of protecting our population."

Not everyone can get the spray. For now Flumist is only approved for healthy people between the ages of five and 49.

Flumist originally cost about $46, which is more than twice that of the shot. It has since been reduced to around $20.

Courtesy NBC Network