The research, which involved nearly 100 people recruited in the metropolitan Atlanta area, found that test subjects could successfully apply a prototype vaccine patch to themselves. That suggests the self-administration of vaccines with microneedle patches may one day be feasible, potentially reducing administration costs and relieving an annual burden on health care professionals.
The study also suggested that the use of vaccine patches might increase the rate at which the population is vaccinated against influenza. After comparing simulated vaccine administration using a patch and by conventional injection, the percentage of test subjects who said they'd be vaccinated grew 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," said Mark Prausnitz, a Regent's professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "People could take them home and apply them to the whole family. We want to get more people vaccinated, and we want to relieve health care professionals from the burden of giving these millions of vaccinations."
The research on patient acceptance of vaccine patch immunization was published online February 11, 2014, by the journal Vaccine
and will appear in a later edition of the print journal. In addition to Georgia Tech researchers, the project also included scientists from Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research into the use of microneedle patches for influenza vaccination has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).