Getting an injection is on the bottom of everybody's list of favorite things, but now a more bearable alternative is another step closer to reality. In human clinical trials, painless microneedle patches have been found to be just as effective at delivering flu vaccines, and are easier to administer, transport, store and dispose of than regular needles.
As their name suggests, microneedle patches are stick-on patches containing an array of tiny plastic needles. Placed on the skin like a Band-Aid, these needles dissolve over a short time, delivering the vaccine payload into the bloodstream. Not only is the technique reportedly painless, but because the vaccine is dried it doesn't need to be refrigerated during transport or storage, and the dissolving needles mean the used patch can be safely thrown out without the hazard of sharps waste.