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HealthWatch: New Patch Could Replace Flu Shots

Vaccine

Vaccine (credit: CBS)

CBS New York (con't)

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Although the thought of giving yourself a flu shot may seem scary, it may no longer require a needle.

A tiny, new patch under research would make it simple and almost pain-free to give yourself the vaccine right at home.

Therefore, that yearly doctor’s visit for the flu shot may soon be a thing of the past.

Imagine, instead of the needle, using a vaccine patch smaller than the size of a penny. It has hundreds of microscopic needles that don’t hurt and dissolve into the skin.

This new patch may help those afraid of needles get their vaccinations quickly and painlessly.

It’s not just children that don’t always like getting the flu shot.

“I’m a little bit of a baby. I don’t like the feeling,” one New York resident said.

Each year, about 33 percent of Americans get the flu shot and nearly 40-thousand Americans die of the flu. The centers for disease control would like to see more Americans get the shot and recommends the vaccination for almost every person over 6 months old.

“The immune response seems to be stronger than what we observe with the current vaccine,” Dr. Richard Compans, of the Emory University School of Medicine, said.

Side effects of the patch would be similar to those for the regular vaccine.

Ideally patients would be able to administer their own flu vaccines using this patch. In other words, they could pick it up at the pharmacy or send off for it in the mail.

“I think it has a lot of merits because you can save a lot of time. You don’t have to go to the doctor,” said a New York resident.

The patch could be used most effectively during a flu pandemic and would simplify large scale immunizations in developing countries.

“You might get some swelling locally in the skin,” said Compans.

Thus far, the micro needle patches, which would take about 15 minutes to dissolve, have been effective in immunizing mice. The next step is a clinical trial to see how they work on people.

If all goes well, the vaccine patch could be available in about five years.