By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Duquesne students have the option of a new kind of flu shot — one that doesn’t involve a needle.

“I hate needles, first and foremost, so the needleless injection was kind of a no-brainer for me,” admits Zack Sabella.

“I chose the needle option,” says Amber McElhaney, “The needle, I think, hurts less, just from what I’ve seen so far.”

“It does hurt,” explains Bob Laux at the Duquesne School of Pharmacy. “It feels like you’re snapping a rubber band against the skin and it leaves a small welt, but the welt disappears after a few minutes.”

The needle-free system uses a high-pressure gun to essentially punch a concentrated spray of liquid vaccine through the skin. The liquid itself acts as the needle.

“It’s catching on. There’s a number of pharmacies in the area that are promoting it very heavily,” says Laux. “We’re training various pharmacists from outside companies how to use it.”

It takes some practice to give the vaccine this way, but it works just as well as the traditional shot with a needle. In one study, vaccination with the gun actually produced a more vigorous immune response.

Other advantages — accidental needle sticks are avoided and being needle-free can be useful in settings where lost needles would be a problem, for example, a prison.

“It’s a little bit more expensive than a standard needle, but I think over time, the cost will come down,” says Laux.

As for which hurts more?

“Probably about the same,” describes Duquesne student Pat Hanley right after getting the needle-free vaccine.

More Local News
More Health News
CDC: Seasonal Influenza Vaccine

Watch & Listen LIVE