A vaccine in the form of a patch could mean flu protection without ever getting stuck by a needle … well, sort of.
An alternative method delivers the vaccine through a patch coated in microneedles, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The patch, which resembles a Band-Aid, is stuck on the skin near the wrist. The tiny needles on the patch hold vaccine for three strains of the flu, and they are absorbed through the skin in about 20 minutes.
Georgia Tech engineer Mark Prausnitz came up with the concept. Health experts hope the microneedle patch will help encourage people to get vaccinated.
The patch was recently tested in a clinical trial by Dr. Nadine Rouphael and Emory University’s Hope Clinic in Decatur, Georgia. Volunteers were split into four groups: Two of the groups were vaccinated with the patch. One of these groups administered the patch by themselves; the other group had the assistance of a professional. The other group received the traditional shot, and the fourth group had the patch with a placebo.
After 28 days, the two groups that used the patch had about the same flu antibody levels as the group that received the traditional shot. Participants who put the patch on themselves got the same protection as the group where the patch was administered by a healthcare professional.
No volunteers had serious side effects, but those who used the patches experienced mild skin reactions.
Of those who used the patch, 70 percent said they would prefer the patch over a traditional flu shot or an intranasal vaccine.
People in low and middle-income areas could benefit from the patch. It costs less, it’s easier to transport, it can be self-administered and it doesn’t require refrigeration.
The flu patches would have to perform well in larger studies before they could be used by the public.
Click here to read The Los Angeles Times’ full report.