If Vaccinations Didn’t Hurt, Would More People Get Them?
Jul 20, 2010

By Christine Vara
I know this sounds pretty pathetic, but the sad reality is that some parents delay or avoid vaccinations because they simply don’t want to deal with their kids’ fear of pain, needles and shots.  I suspect that the same holds true in regards to some adults, and their yearly recommended flu vaccine.   Many patients would rather opt for a painless method than a needle in the arm.  Others avoid vaccinations, finding it a difficult and time consuming inconvenience to get to the doctor or clinic to have the shots administered. 

It can be painful and inconvenient for a flu shot to be administered in a doctor's office or clinic. (photo courtesy of the CDC's Public Health Image Library)

After reading a recent AP article Microneedles May Make Getting Flu Shots Easier, it occurred to me that there would probably be a market for a self administering vaccination patch like the one being developed by researchers collaborating at Georgia Tech and Emory University.
 The concept is pretty straight forward.  A Band Aid type patch, comprised of small microneedles, about three-hundredths of an inch in length – so small they tend to feel like sandpaper – is placed on the skin for 5 to 15 minutes to administer the correct amount of flu vaccine.  The little needles barely penetrate the skin before they dissolve and release their vaccine.  Since the needles then dissolve, there are no leftover sharp needles to be concerned about discarding.  Also, since there is no special training needed to administer the vaccine, people would be able to receive it in the mail or at the pharmacy and give it to themselves at home.
To me this sounds very promising.  According to lead researcher Mark Prausnitz, of the Georgia Institute of Technology Researchers, the patch has been tested on mice, but they are now seeking funds to begin tests in people with the hopes that the patch could be in use in approximately five years.  I think it will be interesting to see how modern science continues to improve immunization methods and how these less painful methods may in turn increase immunization rates.
What are your thoughts on this new development?  Do you believe more people would get their vaccinations if they could utilize this new method?  Let us know what you think by commenting below.

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