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Influenza vaccination could be as easy as a patch

Imagine getting your annual flu shot only to find no needles and syringes in sight. This is a feasible scenario according to a new study published in Nature Medicine [1].

The study evaluates new technology involving a patch in which small microneedles dissolve into the skin for successful influenza vaccination without the inherent dangers of needles. These tiny patches would also allow for self-administration, which would allow for more productive large-scale immunization during pandemics.

“In this study, we have shown that a dissolving microneedle patch can vaccinate against influenza at least as well, and probably better than, a traditional hypodermic needle,” Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, said in a press release [2].

When pressed into the skin, the needles dissolve into bodily fluids, according to the press release. The water soluble backing can be discarded as regular waste as it no longer contains any sharps.

“We envision people getting the patch in the mail or at a pharmacy and then self administering it at home,” Sean Sullivan, the study’s lead author from Georgia Tech said in the release.  “Because the microneedles on the patch dissolve away into the skin, there would be no dangerous sharp needles left over.”