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Fighting the flu... without the shot

Fighting the flu... without the shot

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - There could soon be a powerful new tool in the fight against the flu that could possibly spell the end of the flu shot.

Colder temperatures keep most people inside while holiday travel moves people home to home and with that comes the season of getting sick.

"A single person with influenza typically spreads it to three to nine other people and often times they don't even realize they are doing it,” said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum.

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum says that when it comes to the flu shot vaccine, the most recent numbers from the National Institutes of Health, show only about six in ten children and four in ten adults got the flu vaccine last season.

While most people who don't like shots, they also don't like getting sick.

"People who get influenza… they really don't like it,” said Dr. Fichtenbaum.

Which is why Dr. Fichtenbaum says flu vaccine workers working with the National Institutes of Health are now developing something new. It's a flu patch that delivers the vaccine right through the surface of your hand.

“In the patch are tiny little needles and they have little small doses of the medicine. It doesn't feel anything like a shot, it just feels like it’s on your skin, and so it delivers the same amount of dose in your skin we would normally give in a shot,” said Dr. Fichtenbaum.

While it's not in the local area yet, Dr. Fichtenbaum says it does hold a lot of promise to breaking down one of the biggest barriers to people who intentionally every year don’t choose to get a flu shot.

The tiny micro-needles on the patch dissolve within minutes into your skin. Preliminary studies show it’s as effective at fighting the flu as the flu shot.

While other methods to deliver the flu vaccine have been tried, such as mist, and were found not to be as effective, the good news about this delivery method is that it’s so different.

"We haven't really delivered vaccines like this,” said Dr. Fichtenbaum.

The team says that the hops is that within a few years, people won't be talking about this being the season of getting sick.

The UC research team says the patch still needs to be studied with a larger number of people, but it has potential to be on the market in two years.

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