Researchers Test Patch That Lets People Give Themselves Flu Vaccine

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Researchers in Atlanta are testing a new way to deliver the flu vaccine.

Only 40 percent of adults in the United States get a flu shot each year, but a skin patch could change the way they receive the annual vaccine.

The Band-Aide-like patch sports 100 microscopic needles loaded with dried flu vaccine, which dissolve over about 20 minutes, releasing the inactive flu virus, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.

A new study conducted by researchers from Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology recently published in the journal The Lancet looked at 100 healthy adults.

“We designed it so that people could self-administer just with the press of thumb,” Dr. Mark Prausnitz said.

Researchers found the microneedle patch to be safe and effective.

“It also allowed subjects who were vaccinated to mount an excellent immune response,” Dr. Nadine Rouphael said.

Reactions were mild, with some redness and itching. More than 70 percent of the volunteers preferred the patch to the usual injections, which researchers say could increase vaccination rates.

“Our goal is to make it so that people can receive their flu vaccination,” Prausnitz said. “And be able to do that at home by themselves without the complexities of having to know how to use a needle and syringe or really have to go to a doctor or nurse to have that done.”

Scientists hope to have the flu vaccine patch available within five years.

Because the vaccine is in dried form, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and is stable for up to one year, again making it easier for consumers to use.

The next step is a large clinical trial to confirm that the patch in fact protects as well as the flu shot.

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