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A Flu Patch Could be Possible in the Future

Update Date: Feb 28, 2014 03:13 PM EST
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Every year the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses the importance of getting the flu vaccine. However, despite their efforts, vaccination rates continue to remain low. In order to change that, researchers have come up with a flu vaccine patch that could be self-administered. The patch, which is still being developed, would make vaccinations easier and could potentially boost vaccination rates for all age groups.

For this study, the research team from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and the CDC recruited around 100 people to try their prototype vaccine patch. The patch includes around 50 microneedles instead of the standard, traditional needle. The needles are about as tall and as thick as individual hair strands. When the patch is pushed against the forearm, the needles work to distribute the vaccine.

Overall, the researchers found that the participants, who were from the metropolitan Atlanta area in Georgia, were very supportive of the prototype vaccine patch. When asked if the people would get vaccinated using the current needle method, 46 percent said yes. That percentage jumped to 65 percent when the participants were given the option of using the vaccine patch.

"If this holds for the population as a whole, that would have a tremendous impact on preventing disease and the cost associated with both influenza and the vaccination process," Paula Frew, an assistant professor in the Emory University School of Medicine and a co-author of the study said in the press release.

"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 in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology reported by the New York Daily News. "People could take them home and apply them to the whole family."

The researchers believe that if the trials are successful, the vaccine patch could be available within five years. The study was published in Vaccine.

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