Flu patch could replace annual jab

29 June 2017

Sending out patches in the post may be the future of protecting people from the illness.

A dissolvable patch could one day replace an annual flu jab, new research has asserted.

Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, have found that sending out patches in the post may be the future of protecting people from the illness instead of having them come into a doctor's surgery for an injection.

Moreover, experts insist the patch works just as well as a jab and patients preferred the non-invasive method.

To test the product, 100 adults aged between 18 and 49, who had previously opted out of getting the flu vaccine, were randomly allocated into four categories, with one receiving the traditional jab in their arms.

Participants in the other groups applied a patch to their wrist and left for 20 minutes so the 'microneedles' could pierce the top layer of the skin and be absorbed, while one group received a placebo.

Read more: 4 questions you may have about getting your flu shot, answered

People knew the patch was applied properly thanks to a snap system, which indicated when enough pressure had been applied.

After an 180-day assessment, antibody levels and adverse events were measured. The results, published in The Lancet medical journal, found there were no serious side effects and the smaller, mild reactions were similar for both the injection and patch.

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More impressive was that the patch provided just as many antibodies as the jab, with 96 per cent of those using it noting it was pain-free technique while 70 per cent stated they preferred the approach over a needle.

"Despite the recommendation for adults and children to receive a flu shot, many people remain unvaccinated. The patch could be safely applied by participants themselves, meaning we could envisage vaccination at home, in the workplace, or even via mail distribution," study leader Dr. Nadine Rouphael said of the invention.

"These advantages could reduce the cost of the flu vaccine and potentially increase coverage. Our findings now need confirming in larger trials."

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