More than 3 million people will be able to protect themselves against the H1N1 flu virus in a few weeks, that is if they opt to get the vaccine through a nasal spray. But the spray isn't for everyone.
In just one month, more than 3,000 Sanford employees have been vaccinated against the seasonal flu and several are turning to FluMist for protection.
So what's the difference between the shot and the mist?
"The flu mist is a live attenuated vaccine, which means it's a live virus but it's been altered so that it cannot itself cause the flu," Dr. Wendell Hoffman with Sanford Clinic Infectious Disease said.
The shot is an inactive killed virus. Both offer protection throughout the flu season, but the nasal spray, because it goes right to the source, often triggers a greater immune response.
"It's been nasally administered so it's provoking antibody production in the upper respiratory tract and then also as it's absorbed, it is provoking antibody response systemically in the blood stream," Hoffman said.
But when the H1N1 flumist vaccine arrives the first week of October, can these same people line up?
"Anybody who is healthy between the ages of 2 and 49 who are not pregnant," Hoffman said.
FluMist is not recommended for pregnant women, people over 50 or those with asthma, heart disease or several other health problems.
That means those at high-risk for flu-like complications will have to wait for the shot. But luckily the fight against the H1N1 flu will have begun.
"Whenever you start vaccinating a population, you are already fighting the epidemic or pandemic," Hoffman said.
The more people who have the antibodies, the more likely the virus is running into a dead end. You can learn more abou the FluMist online.
© 2009 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.