Getting a vaccine? Try a patch!

Lea Malofsky | Staff Writer |

Image Source: IAEA

Hate shots? Get anxiety just thinking about a needle going into your arm? Good news! According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, researchers have developed a vaccine patch that is administered directly to the skin.

The new design aims to provide  a more easily accessible vaccine that will significantly reduce stress for those with a phobia of needles, a win for those students here who are procrastinating getting the vaccine for this reason. The vaccine patch can be self-administered, and, with more testing, can be reengineered for different vaccines, such as measles and the flu.

Studies done by the research group showed that the vaccine patch generated a higher T-Cell and antigen–specific antibody response, up to 50 times greater than with a vaccine administered through an injection through the arm muscle. Another study done by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that the immune response to the vaccine patch was 10 times greater than a vaccine administered with a shot. 

Researchers hope that with this vaccine patch, vaccination rates will go up due to the ease of the patch, and since there are no special delivery or administration procedures, anyone can get vaccinated with a lower dosage while still getting the benefits of a needle-induced vaccination. 

Unfortunately, it is a challenge to manufacture vaccine patches for different vaccines. 

“These issues, coupled with manufacturing charges, have arguably held the field of microneedles for delivery.” Shaomin Tian, a researcher at the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology in the UNC School of Medicine

UNC manufactures the patch using 3D printing, which, according to Tian, “gives us lots of design latitude for making the best microneedles from a performance and cost point of view.” 

The vaccine patch could revolutionize vaccines, end needle phobia and help put an end to scary misinformation about vaccines, such as microchips in the vaccines.