Soon, getting the flu vaccine could be as easy as slapping on a patch. Yep, you read that right. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (a.k.a. Georgia Tech) have developed a flu vaccine patch that would not only allow people to ditch the needle but also administer the vaccine themselves.
The patch is covered with an array of 50 tiny needles that barely penetrate the skin. Georgia Tech’s researchers recently conducted an initial study to test how well people used the patch, and they discovered that most people were able to use it correctly with little instruction. Not only that, those same people also said they liked the patch better than the shot. They said it was easy to use and less painful.
It’s for those reasons that researchers hope the flu patch will become a viable option. They think it not only would save money — most of the cost of a shot is paying a doctor, nurse or pharmacist to deliver it — but it should also greatly increase the number of people getting flu shots. Right now, fewer than half of all Americans who should get a flu vaccine actually get one. In the Georgia Tech study, 46 percent of people said they’d get a flu shot, but 65 percent said they’d use a patch-based vaccine.
Several groups are working on needle-free vaccines, and of course there are oral polio vaccines, oral drops to protect against rotavirus, and a nasal spray called FluMist for influenza.