Those of you who cringe at the thought of getting a needle may be in luck. Researchers are working on an easy-to-apply patch that will administer the flu vaccination. In preliminary studies, the patch—which consists of dissolving microneedles—has shown promise as an effective alternative to administrating the influenza vaccination.
The patch contains 100 water-soluble microneedles that are long enough to penetrate the skin but are far more painless compared to receiving a needle.
Dr. Roderic Pettigrew explained, “This bandage-strip sized patch of painless and dissolvable needles can transform how we get vaccinated. A particularly attractive feature is that this vaccination patch could be delivered in the mail and self-administered. In addition, this technology holds promise for delivering other vaccines in the future.”
The trial study included 100 adults. The researchers found that the vaccination was well administered, causing a strong immune response. The patients did not experience any serious side effects as a result. Minor side effects included minor localized redness and minor itching, which lasted for a couple of days.
Once the vaccine is administered, the patch easily peels off.
Although studies on the patch are ongoing, they show great promise as an effective means of delivering the vaccine. Furthermore, microneedle patches are low-cost, storage convenient, and durable.
Dr. Len Horovitz, who was not involved in the study, commented, “The flu microneedle patch is easy to use—it can be self-administered and, like other medication patches, it is well absorbed through the skin. This development eliminates the need for intramuscular injection [a flu shot] by a health care professional.”
Although the patch may not be available for the upcoming flu season, after a few more clinical trials, you may begin to see them in your doctor’s office in a few years.