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Taking The Ouch Out Of Shots

Smiling woman getting an injection from a doctor

Staying healthy involves trying to manage a wide variety of factors. The ones we have the most control of are our dietary choices and how much exercise we do. That’s why doctors spend so much time trying to convince us all to eat a balanced diet and simply get out there in the world and move. Those two changes do wonders for bolstering our health in so many ways that it is hard to track all of them. One of the biggest boons it gives us though is our ability to resist some of the factors we can’t control like a disease. Every time flu season comes around all we can really do is hope and try to avoid anyone who is obviously sick. Admittedly, the option to get a shot is still there, but there are a lot of reasons why many people avoid them. Some people hate needles while others dislike the potential for soreness at the injection site for a day or two. The good news is that needles being used in vaccine and drug delivery may be on their way out in the future to be replaced by something far more comfortable.

Patchy Progress
A recent trial has been done for a skin patch that very well may replace needles in the future. The idea is that the patch is easy enough for anyone to use and apply while being easily used on the go without necessarily needing to stop by an office to wait for the injection. This removes the hassle, the pain, and potentially the wait from getting an injection. As a result, it solves the majority of the problems that most people have. How does it work though? The truth is that these skin patches actually do have needles on them. There are many tiny needles on the side of the patch facing the skin that break through the skin at a small enough level to leave no real impression of the needles while still being deep enough to deliver the drug or vaccine payload. This all seems to offer a glimpse of a promising future where we don’t need to fuss with needles ever again. What makes things even better is that the patches were just as effective as injections in the recent trial.

What This Means
Skin patch vaccines actually offer a truly stunning potential for the future. As we highlighted before, many people end up avoiding a vaccine for one reason or another each year. Many of us need our immune system to be given the wake-up call that is a vaccine though. This is especially true when it comes to the flu where the vaccine each year is for the major strains causing issues that year. Patches offer the potential for people to easily pick up the vaccine patch at a central location and then immediately move on to the rest of their day. The ability to apply it anywhere will give far greater flexibility. Additionally, researchers have speculated there is a potential future where it might be possible to simply register your address to receive a vaccine and then have your patch mailed to you each year to be applied when you got it. In this way, these microneedle patches offer the potential to be a true innovation in public health.

Where Are They?
The only downside is that these microneedle patches are still in human trials. That means they’re still being tested and refined by the researchers involved in developing them. While the researchers are pleased with the results thus far, the patches will still need to undergo further testing before being moved toward widespread availability. Currently, the intent is to test the patches as a delivery for more vaccine types as well to check for consistent viability. There is no current date at which the researchers are confident that their patches will be available for public use, but confidence is currently high that the patches will continue to be effective through the next phases of the clinical trials. We may very well see them within the next decade and eventually be able to abandon our fears and worries about having to deal with a needle to get a vaccine. The best part is it will likely be even easier for both children and more mature adults to be able to safely and comfortably get the vaccines necessary to maintain their health.

Microneedle patches may be the future of vaccine delivery. At the moment the research remains ongoing to see how viable this replacement for a traditional injection is for widespread use and if it remains equally effective for various vaccines. The future may very well see needles being phased out of vaccine delivery and in turn an increase in overall public health. We’ll have to wait and see how the research plays out though.

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