Sally McDonald, Clark.com
Needle-phobes rejoice! A potentially game-changing way to administer the influenza vaccine just performed remarkably well in a human clinical trial.
Read more: Tips to prevent getting colds and flu
Study says new patch is simple and effective flu vaccine
The new method doesn’t involve a shot or a spray — it’s a patch with tiny vaccine-filled needles (the scientific term is microneedle patch) that dissolve directly into your skin. According to the study, the patch is painless and you can apply it yourself.
The results show that vaccination with the microneedle patch was safe, effective against fighting the flu and preferred by participants in the trial. In fact, more than 70% of patch recipients reported they would prefer the patch over a shot or the nasal spray for future vaccinations.
“People have a lot of reasons for not getting flu vaccinations,” according to Mark Prausnitz, Ph.D., Georgia Tech Regents professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “One of the main goals of developing the microneedle patch technology was to make vaccines accessible to more people.”
Currently, you have to visit a health care professional to get the flu vaccine. The flu shot has to be stored in a refrigerator and the needle has to be disposed of in a safe manner.
If the microneedle patch hits the market, the hope is that you could pick it up at the store and take it home, put it on your skin for a few minutes, peel it off and throw it away.
While more tests are needed, the microneedle patch will most likely move forward into further clinical trials with hopes of making it available to consumers in the near future.
It’s too soon to tell if the new technology will save you — or cost you — money, but at the very least, the microneedle patch is an interesting development in the way we fight serious illnesses like the flu.
CDC: Tips to prevent the flu
The flu is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 310,000 people were hospitalized for flu-related illness during the 2015-2016 season.
Here are three tips from the CDC to help you stay healthy, especially during flu season:
Get the vaccine. The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October.
Take everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of viruses. Cover your cough, wash your hands frequently, and clean and disinfect surfaces regularly.
Take medicine if your doctor prescribes it. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia.