Sociology, Technology, & Self

 

As a registered nurse, our work is never done. We spend countless hours being on the bedside with our patients may it be giving medications, collecting vital signs, assessing our patient’s overall status, providing treatments, and so on. That does not even include the fact that we also have to spend countless hours documenting what happened during the long hours that we spend on our shifts. When it comes to doing our work, it is truly appreciated when there is something that can help us do our work more efficiently due to the help of newer innovations or technologies that can help us and our patients. There is no doubt that the United State’s healthcare system is shaped by the advanced technology that is available to us and every year, these technological advances just keeps getting better and better. One of the more recent innovations that I have truly appreciated and admired is the availability of needle-less vaccines. The journey of needle-less vaccines have evolved tremendously these past few years and I have been able to get my hands on it as a nurse last year. Although there are different types of needle-less vaccines that have been approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), for example, in 2014, the FDA approved the use of needle-free influenza vaccines through the use of a device called the PharmaJet Stratis needle-free injectors that can deliver this vaccination in the intramuscular route. This type of needle-free injector delivers the vaccine with high pressure stream that surpasses the skin, fatty tissues, all the way to the muscular tissue where the vaccine is intended to be delivered (Brennan, 2014). Another type of a needle-less vaccination include the delivery of attenuated vaccines on the sublingual (under the tongue), buccal, or oral route which is becoming popular as well. The most recent discovery that have captured my attention is the invention and development of vaccination that can be delivered in the form of a patch.

 

You might think of what is so special about a vaccine that can be delivered in this method, it might seem mundane but it is very spectacular for those who work in the medical field such as myself. We are well aware that vaccines can be delivered with an injection and that it is the most known and widely accepted way of delivering our vaccines. On the other hand, Shim et al. conducted a study pertaining to the sublingual delivery of vaccinations and its effectiveness and it was found that although this method have a very promising aspect, there are still risks such as introducing pathogens that can cause infections in the oral mucosa which can be life threatening if not treated right away (Shim, et al., 2013). Another argument that Kraan, et al. have argued is that “However, mucosal surfaces are endowed with potent and sophisticated tolerance mechanisms to prevent the immune system from overreacting to the many environmental antigens. Hence, mucosal vaccination may suppress the immune system instead of induce a protective immune response. Therefore, mucosal adjuvants and/or special antigen delivery systems as well as appropriate dosage forms are required in order to develop potent mucosal vaccines. (Kraan, et al, 2014).” The patch delivery system is a real game changer because of the benefits that it has compared to the others, a benefit of this product includes the longevity of the shelf-life of the product being able to stay stable unrefrigerated in room temperature for ten weeks, 20 weeks if refrigerated. Another benefit that this system have is that this can be self-administered just like a Band-Aid which also makes this system more cost effective, also, this type of delivery system only uses ten percent of the liquid vaccine that is required to be injected in the muscle which again makes it very cost-effective.

 

The best part is that it is absolutely painless which makes it easier for the patients to comply and get their vaccinations (Kwan, 2015). Everyone from all members of the socioeconomic status can benefit from this, regardless of what their culture or race are, if they are rich or poor, young or old, male or female. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shared its curiosity towards this new invention, Dr. Goodson mentioned that 400 children are killed each day by measles complications worldwide because of the lack of needles, syringes, sterile water, sharps disposals, and the vaccines itself. The patch is a very effective way of eliminating the disease since the vaccine is very easy to transport through different places with less maintenance and less cost (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). Another great benefactor of the vaccine patch are the children since we won’t need to inject and inflict pain on these little children. These vaccines can also help those that get anxious or agitated due to their extreme fear of needles. The vaccine patch is really a great solution for a lot of dilemmas that we encounter such as those that are listed above.

 

Since the inventions of the vaccine patches are still pretty recent, more research is being done to improve this product. Some would argue that this delivery of vaccination is not as effective but that has been proven wrong due to the success on the several clinical trials that have already been done in the past. Different pharmaceutical companies have also expressed their interests on this breakthrough product that they have conducted their own clinical trials and studies towards it and voiced that “’Our findings show that microneedle patches are just as effective at protecting against influenza as conventional hypodermic immunizations,’ says Richard Compans, PhD, Emory professor of microbiology and immunology and one of the paper’s senior authors. ‘In addition, vaccine delivery into the skin is desirable because of the skin’s rich immune network’” (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009). The vaccine patch technology is still on its infancy and more thorough research is needed in order to know if this technology have more side effects compared to the conventional delivery method of intramuscular vaccination.

 

During my research, it is hard to find who or what organization have truly invented this type of vaccination delivery as I was able to find literature that is dated in 2009 from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Although this has been on the research field for studies, this form of vaccination made soundwaves when an alumna from Stonybrook University named, Kasia Sawicka, won first place on the Collegiate Inventions Competition. Though it may not be clear whoever made this vaccine patch popular, it had surely caught not just the attention of pharmaceutical companies, it also held the interest of the people that are part of the medical system as this do not just save the lives of our patients but it can also help the people around the world that needs it the most.

 

 

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