A new flu vaccine given through a patch instead of a needle may offer an option to those who would prefer not to get a shot.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where the patch was developed, hope that being able to mail out the patch and avoid needles might mean more people will take advantage of the flu vaccine, according to NBC News
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“Our dream is that each year there would be flu vaccine patches
available in stores or sent by mail for people to self-administer,” Mark Prausnitz, professor of biomolecular engineering, said in a university news release. “People could take them home and apply them to the whole family. We want to get more people vaccinated, and we want to relieve health care professionals from the burden of giving these millions of vaccinations.”
The patch isn’t needle-free, but instead contains 50 tiny needles “about as tall as the thickness of a hair,” that barely break the skin, the Georgia Tech release said.
Studies have been checking how well it works when people administer it themselves, and also have also had people rank the pain difference between the patch and a regular needle.
“In addition to the preference for the vaccine patch, we found that a large majority of the people willing to be vaccinated would choose to self-administer the vaccine,” said James Norman, the study’s first author, in the release.
Fewer than 50 percent of the country’s population gets the flu vaccination, and several thousand people die each year from the flu.
The patch is about five years away from being approved, Prausnitz said in the school’s release, and probably would first be administered by healthcare professionals. But the hope is eventually to increase the number of people who are vaccinated because of the ease of the patch, the fact that it could be done at home, and that it doesn’t hurt as much.
“It actually feels better than having a needle go in,” Rudy Garcia, who was one of the people who tested the patch, told NBC News.
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