A Needleless Immunization Shot?

I hated getting shots as a kid. Now, with more vaccines becoming the norm (I don't remember how many shots I needed for college), a new patch may take away the sting from some of them. A recent Wired blog reported that a vaccination patch in the works. The patch (which hasn’t been tested on humans yet) contains dissolving microneedles—100 tiny needles in place of the usual scary big one.

The ability to self-administer a shot (which is likened to slapping on “a Band-Aid with a bunch of tiny needles sticking out on the sticky side”) has both pros and cons, though.

While the patches would be convenient as no doctor or nurse will be needed, and they can be stored at room temperature rather than in a refrigerator—the scary truth is that anyone could use one. Though the easy access has its benefits to public health, especially during flu season, including the ability to give a lot of people (say, a college dorm) access to the vaccine at once, it also comes with lack of control on who can give one. So maybe it’s not time to give up the needle just yet.

Photo via Wired.com: A portion of a dissolving microneedle patch compared to a U.S. nickel coin./Sean Sullivan.