Gambian child receives the microarray patch
Gambian child receives the microarray patchMRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM

Painless Skin Patch Could Deliver Vaccines to Kids

Key Takeaways

  • A painless patch is effective at delivering vaccinations

  • More than 90% of infants received full protection from measles and 100% from rubella after receiving a single vaccine patch

  • The patches bear microscopic needles that painlessly penetrate the skin and deliver the vaccine

TUESDAY, April 30, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Kids who don’t like vaccination shots might soon have an alternative in a painless skin patch, researchers say.

More than 90% of 190 Gambian infants were protected from measles and all were protected from rubella after receiving a single vaccine dose through the patch, early trial results show.

The patch contains an array of microscopic needles that painlessly penetrate the skin and deliver the vaccine, researchers said.

“Although it’s early days, these are extremely promising results which have generated a lot of excitement. They demonstrate for the first time that vaccines can be safely and effectively given to babies and young children using microarray patch technology,” said researcher Ed Clarke, head of infant immunology with the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“Measles vaccines are the highest priority for delivery using this approach but the delivery of other vaccines using microarray patches is also now realistic,” Clarke added. “Watch this space.”

These patches could make it easier to expand vaccine coverage in poorer countries, researchers said. They could be easier to transport, potentially not needing cold storage, and don’t need to be administered by a medical professional.

“We hope this is an important step in the march towards greater vaccine equity among disadvantaged populations,” said Dr. Ikechukwu Adigweme with the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

In developed countries like the United States, vaccine patches could offer greater convenience and a pain-free alternative to conventional shots, researchers said.

Offering a patch-based vaccination might even encourage more parents to get their kids immunized, they added.

After announcing the measles eradicated in 2000, the United States has been experiencing outbreaks of the highly infectious and dangerous virus over the past couple of years, due to vaccine hesitancy among parents.

Larger trials of the patches are now being planned, to confirm these results and provide more data, the researchers said.

The findings were published April 29 in The Lancet journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about measles in the U.S.

SOURCE: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, news release, April 29, 2024

What This Means For You

A painless patch could soon be available to deliver vaccinations to children.

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