Finally, a needle-free way to get a flu vaccine

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Scientists have developed a patch to deliver a flu vaccine for those who can’t stand needles.

A study in the journal the Lancet says the dissolvable microneedle patch was found to be safe and preferred over a conventional injection in a trial involving 100 people.

The research, led by Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, showed the patches produced a robust immune response.

However, larger trials are needed to further investigate the immune mechanism behind the response and confirm the findings.

In Australia, there are about 3,500 flu-related deaths per year. In the US, 48,000 die each year.

Dr Nadine Rouphael, Associate Professor of Medicine at Emory University, says many people remain unvaccinated despite recommendations.

“Dissolvable microneedle patches could potentially simplify the delivery of influenza vaccines,” she says.

“We found that the vaccine was stable outside the cold chain, meaning that it could potentially be stored on a pharmacy shelf.

“The patch could also be safely applied by participants themselves, meaning we could envisage vaccination at home, in the work place, or even via mail distribution.”

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