Fear of needles can be so serious, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders added it to the official list of phobias in 1997. Needle phobia is called belonephobia and it can be extreme, even inherited.
Of course there are times you need a shot but go out of your way to avoid it. Children and the elderly in particular are encouraged to get flu shots, for example.
There may be a solution on the horizon. A recent study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology has shown a needle-free way to deliver the flu vaccine. The microneedle vaccine patch will allow individuals to take care of flu vaccinations entirely on their own. The patch’s inventors visualize these flu vaccine patches being made available in stores or sent by mail for people to self-administer.
About the patch
The surface of the flu patch has 50 microscopic needles that inject the vaccine into the skin when the patch is pressed on. These needles are virtually painless, as they are as tiny as hair.
So far, there is no flu vaccine available in a patch form. But to check pain associated with administering the patch, the ability of people to self-administer such a patch and to see how easy its application might be, volunteers were given patches without the vaccine.
In tests, most volunteers had no problem in efficiently applying the patch, particularly while using the one that made a clicking noise when pressed.
Reduction in the cost of vaccination programs
Researchers foresee the patch as cost-effective because you don’t have to pay a doctor, nurse or pharmacist to deliver it. Moreover, with patches, the cost involved in a vaccine’s storing and administration would be avoided resulting in significant cost savings to the health care system.