False: WHO's VigiAccess states that FluMist contains active ingredients for Streptococcal infection.

By: Gayathri Loka
December 12 2022

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False: WHO's VigiAccess states that FluMist contains active ingredients for Streptococcal infection.


The Verdict False

VigiAccess did not list strep as one of the active ingredients in FluMist. Weakened influenza virus strains in FluMist help fight the virus.

Claim ID 44b114e6


On December 2, 2022, the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) published an analysis that discussed a spike in Group A Streptococcus A infections, known as strep. The UKHSA reported five deaths under the age of 10 had been recorded within seven days (the number since then has risen to eight children in England and Wales and one in Northern Ireland). 

Since then, social media posts have claimed that nasal sprays administered for flu cause strep and are fatal. A recent Facebook post includes a screenshot claiming to be from VigiAccess, which reported the "potential side-effects of FluMist." VigiAccess is a search tool by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help access the side effects of medical products. The image has a long list of alleged side effects of FluMist, and Streptococcal infection is claimed to be one of them. However, nasal sprays for flu do not cause strep; this claim stems from an anti-vaccine narrative. 

In Fact 

VigiAcess is a tool to help search VigiBase, a global database set up by WHO to report potential side effects of medical products. The database lists suspected side effects of a medical product, not confirmed ones. According to the FAQ section of VigiAccess, it is impossible to compare the active ingredients on the information they provide and conclude on the product's safety. On analyzing the screenshot in the social media post, we could not find the image's origin. However, after going through VigiAccess, we saw that FluMist does not list Streptococcal infection as one of its side effects. 

In an email, a WHO spokesperson told Reuters, "Information in VigiAccess on potential side effects should not be interpreted as meaning that the medicinal product or its active substance either caused the observed effect or is unsafe to use." The spokesperson also said, "Confirming a causal link is a complex process that requires a thorough scientific assessment and detailed evaluation of all available data. Therefore, the website does not reflect any confirmed link between a medicinal product and a side effect."

FluMist is a nasal spray flu vaccine that is administered through the nose. It is a live vaccine, which means it contains a weakened live virus that will stimulate the immune system, according to the FluMist website. This vaccine is administered to help combat flu viruses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published the package inserts of FluMist. According to the document, the active ingredient includes four weakened influenza virus strains. The possible side effects of Flumist are a runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache, cough, and tiredness. FDA does not mention strep as an active ingredient or a side effect. 

Mayo Clinic states Streptococcal (strep) is caused by a bacterial infection. It causes a sore throat and spreads through physical contact or aerosol droplets. No medical body has reported that flu nasal sprays contain strep. It should be noted that strep A is a bacterial infection, while nasal spray flu vaccines are meant to prevent viral infections by using small amounts of weakened flu viruses, not bacteria.

Similar claims about flu nasal sprays causing strep are circulating on social media and have been debunked. These claims stem from anti-vaccine narratives, which purport that vaccines are unsafe and cause other illnesses. 

The Verdict 

VigiAccess has not listed Streptococcal infection as one of the ingredients in FluMist. Flu nasal sprays contain weakened influenza ingredients, not strep. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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