The Future Of Flu Vaccines Doesn't Involve Getting A Shot

Researchers are testing a painless skin patch that features tiny, dissolvable needles full of the flu vaccine.
Posted at 12:59 PM, Jun 28, 2017

You might not need a standard flu shot to be protected against the respiratory illness in the future.

Instead, flu vaccinations might look something like a Band-Aid.

This microneedle patch was created by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It features 100 microscopic, dissolvable needles that contain a vaccine. All you have to do is press the patch to your skin.

The patch was originally touted as a way to vaccinate against measles, but researchers decided to conduct a human clinical trial for a flu vaccine patch first.

Participants were given either the patch, a standard flu shot or a placebo. Researchers said the patch was "just as effective in generating immunity against influenza."

And more than 70 percent of people who received the patch reported they'd rather use it than get a shot or even use nasal flu spray.

Almost no one reported feeling any pain from the patch's microneedles, but some participants developed some mild skin redness and irritation around the injection site. Those symptoms only lasted for a few days.

The CDC says only about 41 percent of American adults on average get the flu vaccine each year.

But researchers hope the microneedle patch, which can be self-administered, will lead to an increase in that number.

Similar microneedle patches are also being developed for vaccines against polio and rubella.