If researchers have it their way, the flu vaccine might become available in the form of a skin patch.
Researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory University have developed a skin patch that uses microneedles to deliver the vaccine to combat influenza.
“A microneedle patch to a person using it, looks a lot like a Band-Aid or a nicotine patch, but if you zoom in under the microscope, what you’ll see is that they are some microscopically small needles," said Mark Prausnitz, Ph. D., of Georgia Tech. "They puncture painlessly into the skin, they dissolve. Encapsulated within those microneedles is the vaccine, which is then released into the skin after a few minutes. We compared the immune response of a regular injection to that associated with a microneedle patch and they were similar to one another. The microneedle patch might even be a little better.”
Phase one of the clinical trial shows the patch is as safe and effective as the traditional flu shot and patients could even administer the shot themselves.
Doctors say this alternative could increase the number of people who get vaccinated each year.
Researchers say only 40 percent of adults in the U.S. get flu shots each year.
“Our vision for this really is that someday, we hope in the near future, people will be able to go to the store, pick up patches for themselves and the family, bring them home, put them on and as a result it will be much more accessible for people to get the vaccine," said Prausnitz.