Health & Med

Vaccinate Yourself at Home with the Microneedle Patch

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Flu viruses are constantly changing, also the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, which means that an annual flu shot is a great way to prevent influenza. But, with about 58% of Americans avoiding the shot, inoculation becomes a real challenge.

As a result, several thousand people die of complications from the flu each year, and as many as 200,000 are hospitalized. An increasing in the immunization rate could significantly cut the deaths, hospitalizations, and their associated costs.

To get more people vaccinated, a recent study is exploring the way that vaccination can be self-administered. After all, therapeutic drugs are routinely self-administered by patients, so why not treat the flu shot in the same way?

Comprised of 100 volunteers, the study tested the usability and acceptability of a self-administered microneedle patch for flu vaccine delivery (though no actual vaccine was used, just a saline solution), and found what you probably suspected – people love it.

how the micropatch works

The patches consists of an arrays of 50 microscopic needles – about as tall as the thickness of a few strands of hair. They are pressed onto a person’s forearm and carry the vaccine into the outer layers of the skin, prompting an immune reaction from the body. It was found that multiple attempts and instructions to push harder were required for the volunteers to successfully self-administer the patch, as they didn’t know how hard to press. However a variation of the patch that produced an audible “snap” when pushed hard enough made the delivery almost 100% successful.

pain-perception

As part of the study participants were asked to rate the pain associated with administering the patch on a scale of 1 to 100 and compare it to the standard intramuscular injection. The discomfort experienced with the patch was much lower – rating 1.5 on average, while the injection rated at 15. If the patch was an option an extra 19% of participants said that they would get their influenza vaccination.

Clinical trials for these vaccine patches are set to begin this year along with a full comparison with standard injections. “Our dream is that each year there would be flu vaccine patches available in stores or sent by mail for people to self-administer,” said Mark Prausnitz, a Regent’s professor at Georgia Tech, and one the leaders of the study.

Photos via: FastCoExist.com

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