The End Of The Jab? The Science Behind Vaccine Patches 

Would you prefer to get one big needle or hundreds of tiny ones? If you are not a fan of needles, what if getting vaccinated was as easy as putting on a patch? 

Whether the Covid-19 booster or the flu vaccine, the injectable vaccine has become the most common and fastest way to get the syringe into the bloodstream. 

However, scientists are developing printable vaccine patches that are much smaller than regular injectable vaccines.  

Tune into the full episode of Science Explained with host, Dr Sophie Calabretto to hear the full recap of this month’s discoveries. 

On today’s episode of The Science Briefing, Dr Sophie Calabretto asks Cosmos Magazine journalist Ellen Phiddian about what vaccine patches are, how they are made, and how far off they are for human use. 

The printable vaccine patch is about the size of a regular printer. 

Phiddian says that instead of traditional liquid needles, these vaccines are little patches that people put on their skins. 

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“They are basically these big flat moulds that use robotic arms to fill the moulds with ink, and the ink is sucked into the microneedle moulds through the vacuum placed underneath them,” Phiddian said. 

In recent research published in Nature Biotechnology, scientists used their vaccine printers to make Covid-19 mRNA vaccines, which provoked an immune response in mice. 

The traditional injectable vaccines are required to be refrigerated, while these patches can be stored at room temperature for months. 

“Just because something works in mice doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ever going to work in humans. And if it does, years away from it being a reality,” she said. 

“There’s a whole bunch of other questions around delivering these vaccines as well. So, one example is sanitisation. It’s a different process to injectable vaccines.” 

Introducing The Science Briefing: a podcast about the science of everything and your new go-to podcast for your snapshot of science news. Hosted by Dr Sophie Calabretto and featuring journalists from Cosmos Magazine.