RALEIGH, NC (CBS Newspath) – Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are developing a new technology that could make getting the COVID-19 vaccine, flu shots, and childhood vaccines pain-free and without needles.
According to the CDC, as many as 25% of adults and many children have a fear of needles, some so severe it prevents them from getting vaccinated.
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Dr. Joseph DeSimone at Stanford University is working with researchers at UNC on a tiny patch that can deliver vaccines when applied to the skin. “And so, our approach was to directly 3D-print the microneedles and use a breakthrough in 3-D printing that we pioneered,” he says.
The microneedles on the patch are so small they can hardly be felt. Dr. DeSimone says not only is the patch painless, it’s also more effective than traditional shots. “We have 100 to 1,000 times more of the targeted immune cells in the dermis of our skin than we do in our muscle,” he says.
That means each person would require a smaller amount of vaccine. It also wouldn’t need to be kept as cold as vaccines that are used in liquid form. “When you think about global access, you’re gonna need things like that,” Dr. DeSimone says.
Right now, the patch is being tested on animals. Dr. DeSimone says the results are promising, and within five years, he says this could be how you get your shots. Or more specifically, how you could give yourself your shots.
Researchers are testing the COVID-19 vaccine. They say this technology could be used for many types of vaccines against infectious disease.