You can get a flu vaccine without getting a shot

If you’re scared of needles, you’re not alone: A Gallup poll found one in five American adults are, too. 

And in a Harris Interactive poll commissioned by Target, 23 per cent of Americans said they would skip the flu vaccine in particular because they didn’t like needles. 

But you can actually get the flu vaccine without a shot. 

Though many people think the flu is no big deal, this is a major misconception. Anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people die from influenza or its complications every year.

That’s why the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over the age of six months get the flu shot.  

This year, shot-free flu vaccine options include a nasal spray and a jet injector.

To see whether these options are available at any locations near you, check out this interactive map.

Nasal spray

Approved for: People 2-49 years old without chronic health conditions 

How it works: You get a spritz of the vaccine in each nostril. It protects against four strains of the flu virus, while most shots protect against three. The flu mist contains live, weakened forms of the viruses, which are not strong enough to cause the flu but can create some mild flu-like symptoms, especially in children. (The shot is made with dead viruses.)

Afluria pharmajet product

PharmaJet
The PharmaJet Stratis Jet Injector.

Jet injector

Approved for: People 18-64 years old 

How it works: It injects the flu vaccine at pressures high enough that the very fine stream of liquid can penetrate the skin and go into the muscle. (Imagine a water gun with a stream powerful enough to enter your skin.) It contains three strains of the dead flu virus. 

Here’s the injector at work in this GIF of a journalist at a local Colorado news station getting his vaccine:

The intradermal vaccine is also an option if you can’t find a location near you that has truly needle-free alternatives. It uses a needle that’s 90 per cent smaller than a traditional shot, and only penetrates the skin instead of the muscle, so it doesn’t hurt as much. It’s also approved for people 18 to 64 years old, according to the CDC. 

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