New Flu Vaccine: No More Needles?

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It's not an easy thing to own up to, but a lot of people are afraid of needles. The dreaded "shot" has kept many an adult out of the doctor's office. Even as we tell sobbing little kids that it's important to get flu vaccinations to prevent illness, how many have passed on the opportunity themselves?

Now it's finally looking like the nightmare may be over for those with a needle phobia.

A patch is being developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology that may make it possible to take care of flu vaccinations entirely on your own. The researchers found subjects were successfully able to apply the flu patch to themselves with little instruction.

Surprise, surprise: The subjects also stated that they preferred the patch to a needle in the arm.

Mark Prausnitz, a professor of biomolecular engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says that his team dreams of flu vaccine patches that are readily available in stores or by mail for persons to have and apply themselves.

"We want to get more people vaccinated, and we want to relieve health care professionals from the burden of giving these millions of vaccinations."

This burden is a greater reality than many Americans realize. It's not uncommon for vaccines to "run out", making them unavailable for the most vulnerable members of the population who need them—children and the elderly.

The patch features 50 tiny needles (don't faint, they're actually very small...) that barely break the surface of the skin.

The study is meant to demonstrate that this method of administration has greater possibilities than the traditional shot administered in doctor's offices and at pharmacies.

There is additional evidence that suggests this method may also be more effective at protecting from the flu than a shot.

Those of us that utterly despise needles and are seeking any and every alternative no doubt are hoping for more research and funding that will allow this considerably less scary alternative to become the new vaccination standard.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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