Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology School published study results on Feb. 11 in Vaccine that suggest self-administration of vaccines might be a possibility, and could encourage more of the public to receive an annual influenza vaccine.
The research conducted at the GIT School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering involved approximately 100 people. After completing a simulated vaccine administration, the number of test subjects who said they would receive a vaccination increased from 46 percent to 65 percent.
"Our dream is that each year there would be flu vaccine patches available in stores or sent by mail for people to self-administer," Mark Prausnitz, a Regent's professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said. "People could take them home and apply them to the whole family. We want to get more people vaccinated, and we want to relieve healthcare professionals from the burden of giving these millions of vaccinations."
The research project included Emory University scientists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The use of microneedle patches for flu vaccines has been supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The vaccine patch uses 50 microscopic needles embedded into the surface of the patch. The patches would be pressed onto the forearm to administer the vaccine to outer layers of the skin, where it would trigger an immune reaction.
"We found that everyone was capable of administering a microneedle patch appropriately, though not everyone did on the first try," Prausnitz said.
The researchers said if the patch vaccine can be produced at the same cost as a traditional influenza vaccine, there would be significant cost savings in the healthcare system due to eliminating the cost of administering the vaccine.