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FluMist “live” vaccine enters Smithsonian collections

By  Jessica Porter


The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History recently acquired a ground-breaking pharmaceutical product perfect for this time of year. Hate shots? FluMist, the first nasal-administered spray flu vaccine is for you!


Photo: This image of the newly identified H1N1 influenza virus was taken in the Influenza Laboratory. of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Donated to the Smithsonian by the Wellness Center of Providence, R.I., FluMist joins the ever-growing collection of vaccines in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Division of Medicine and Science.
“The Museum has a significant collection of vaccines covering about 120 years of development – from our earliest specimens of smallpox vaccines and diphtheria antitoxin of the late 19th century to the FluMist of the 21st century,” says Diane Wendt, associate curator in the Division of Medicine and Science at the museum.

FluMist is not only the first intranasal administered influenza vaccine in the United States, it’s also the first live virus influenza vaccine approved in the United States. What does this mean? Basically, the flu vaccine most of us have received in the past via injection is a “killed” virus, one that cannot multiply but can still trigger an immune response to prevent future infection. FluMist works by exposing you to a small dose of a very weak form of the virus, which helps your body to develop immunity to the disease.

“FluMist represents a new development in the influenza vaccine,” Wendt explains. “It is a great addition to our collection of vaccines.”


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