Needle-free flu shots available for needle phobes

Sep 22, 2011

Autumn officially starts on Friday and that means flu season is close behind. The CDC recommends everyone get a flu shot. This year, a suburban Portland company is promoting a needle-free vaccine for people with needle phobia.

Tualatin, Oregon-based Bioject Medical Technologies makes a vaccine injector powered by a CO2 cartridge. Bioject president Ralph Makar says the way it works is a burst of pressure creates a tiny opening in the skin.

"So the injectable – or the vaccine – is pushed through that small opening thinner than a human hair," Makar explains. "This creates an ultra fine stream of high pressure fluid that basically penetrates the skin without using a needle."

Makar says reducing the risk of accidental needle pricks is another selling point of the needle-free injector. A nasal spray flu vaccine is also an option at many clinics and pharmacies, but the FluMist vaccine is only authorized for people ages 2 through 49.

The cost to the consumer of a traditional flu shot and the alternatives was the same when we price-shopped at Fred Meyer pharmacies and Group Health Cooperative.

Drug makers say plenty of flu vaccine is available this year, so there should be no lines like a couple years ago.

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