Colorado Caution: No Live Swine Flu

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Four Denver area hospitals are not using FluMist, the nasal-spray flu vaccine. Hospital officials are concerned that this live, though altered, microbe threatens some of their weaker patients.

Anyone, in this case hospital personnel, taking FluMist can shed viruses that could infect those patients. That could put them into life-threatening medical situations.

The Centers for Disease Control's policy is that health-care workers "in close contact with anyone who has a severely weakened immune system" should get the flu shot instead.

Consumers may consider following the hospitals' example by keeping their family members with serious medical conditions away from those who have gotten FluMist. One study found viral shedding can last up to three weeks.

However, the government's FluMist handout says the pharmaceutical is "made from weakened virus and does not cause influenza." The document does mention that the vaccine can produce mild symptoms such as nasal congestion, abdominal pain, vomiting, and chills.

*Originally Published: October 17, 2009.

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