These patches could replace flu shots

Getting a flu shot typically requires a needle and a health professional to administer it. Those are just two of the excuses people use to not get a flu shot each year. Why do it when it’s such a hassle?

Thanks to a team of researchers led by Georgia Tech engineer Mark Prausnitz, getting a vaccine to protect against the flu could soon become so much easier. The group invented a patch that uses tiny “microneedles” to give patients protection from the flu virus.

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Despite the anti-shot attitude many people have, it’s still recommended by the Centers for Disease Control that a vaccination be administered each flu season. This is great news for quite a few reasons.

Of course, it means no more shots. But besides getting to avoid the long metal needle, there are other perks. The patches can technically be self-administered, as proven by a test group in the study. And the patches might help vaccinate people  who don’t typically have access to the traditional shots. That means increased protection for a large segment of people—and hopefully a healthier flu seasons for all of us.

Courtesy Georgia Tech

According to the CDC, only 41 percent of adults in the U.S. received the flu shot by November for the 2016-2017 flu season.

But the creators of the patch are hoping this new pain-free method of receiving the vaccine will increase the amount of people who get one.

flu shot photo
Getty Images | Spencer Platt

“These early findings suggest the emergence of a promising new option for seasonal vaccination,” wrote Katja Hoschler and Maria Zambon of Public Health England in a commentary that accompanied the study.

The patch looks like nothing more than a band-aid, but it houses 100 microneedles that hold vaccines for three strains of flu. It can be applied near your wrist, worn for 20 minutes and then removed. Simple and pain-free.

Courtesy Georgia Tech

The study did show that some patients had mild skin reactions to the patch, but all other findings proved this method was just as effective as receiving a traditional shot.

Would you prefer to have a flu patch rather than a flu shot? We imagine for many people the answer is a resounding yes. So, here’s to hoping this new option becomes available in time for the next flu season!

Courtesy Georgia Tech