Children who are afraid of needles will be glad to hear that Kupat Holim Meuhedet is for the first time offering a flu vaccine administered via nasal spray, rather than by injection.The third-largest health fund is offering this painless vaccine, commercially known as Flumist, to its members aged two to eight years at no cost and to children and teens over eight for NIS 49 per dose. The cost of Flumist in private pharmacies is NIS 179. The other health funds are not offering free Flumist.According to the Health Ministry – which will launch its annual anti-influenza campaign after Succot – spray vaccine is just as effective as the injected one. But the ministry is not encouraging the health funds to give Flumist to its members, as it is more expensive than shots, which are available free to all age groups.Meuhedet said Flumist is effective in people of all ages and especially up to 49. It decided to give free nasalspray vaccine to young children, as they are usually the vectors who spread influenza among themselves and adults, including in the elderly, who are most at risk for complications of the flu.If many children are protected, it could help reduce the infection rates in the whole population, says the health fund.