Hate Needles? How About A Vaccine Patch?

Holding down your baby for rounds of vaccine injections isn’t exactly a vacation for most parents. Though babies definitely need their shots, most parents still can barely stomach inflicting that temporary pain on their lovable little ones. Good news is, needles may be a thing of the past soon enough. The near future might see the possibility of getting your babies’ vaccines in a dissolving patch (and in the mail t’boot).

Though needle-less vaccines have been in the works for years, according to the BBC, they seem closer today to becoming a medical reality than ever. These little patches boast hundreds of tiny needles that dissolve into the skin on contact. In theory, it would be as simple as sticking it to your baby’s back like a sticker, and your baby is immediately vaccinated. Another appeal to this approach is that it removes the need for a doctor’s office visit. Parents can apply the vaccines to their children at home. Furthermore, doctors believe that the new method might be better at protecting patients than a traditional needle jab and that the new mode of delivery might help fight our growing resistance to vaccinations in general.

“Obviously, for little kids vaccination is very scary and we come at them with a big needle every time they need a vaccine,” said pediatrician Dr. Erin Giudice in a telephone interview. “Having been around parents before and after their children receive multiple needle-based vaccines at the same time, I just can’t imagine that some proportion of why some families decide not to vaccinate … might have something to do with that we are giving some of these vaccines by a needle,” she said.

Needle-free vaccinations have been tested in mice and recently got FDA approval for human testing, reports MSNBC. Researchers also believe that the vaccination patch will ultimately prove more cost-effective and more widely available than traditional vaccines — meaning they’ll be cheaper and easier to get for us.

“Our idea is to ultimately produce a one-dose vaccine that you could give yourself – imagine a flu vaccine that you can easily administer using a simple, painless microneedle device arriving in your mailbox,” said a spokesman for the Infectious Disease Research Institute.

The biggest appeal of the needle-free vaccine patch? Painlessness. “You just feel a little pressure — nothing else,” said Dr. Steven Reed, founder and president of IDRI. “It is incredibly small. You can’t even see it.”