NO JAB?: New technology may soon eliminate the painfulness of inoculations.
NO JAB?: New technology may soon eliminate the painfulness of inoculations. Wang yadong

NO MORE NEEDLE? The evolution of vaccines

INNOVATIONS in vaccine delivery and development in Australia are hoped to breakdown fears driving low rates of immunisation in areas such as the Northern Rivers.

The conversation comes in light of a rare diagnosis of tetanus at Lismore Base Hospital this week.

A seven-year-old, unvaccinated girl was transferred to Lady Cilento Hospital, Brisbane on Wednesday where she remains in a critical but stable condition.

Immunisation coordinator North Coast Public Health, Marianne Trent it was very concerning for a case to emerge in the region.

"Tetanus was one of the first vaccines that came into being so it is very sad to see a case of tetanus in this day and age," Ms Trent said.

Lennox Head GP, Daniel Ewald said tetanus was "thankfully very rare" in today's medicine and many doctors wouldn't have ever seen a case.

In her 25 years in public health, Ms Trent said she watched immunisations and their delivery evolve rapidly.

One of the most exciting developments she cited was the invention of the vaccine nanopatch.

The patch, about the size of a fingernail, is placed on the arm or leg for a short period of time and delivers the immunisation - minus the pain of the traditional jab.

From the vaccine's contents to side affects, Ms Trent regularly discusses concerns about the jab with parents.

"Parents deserve to have those individual fears discussed with their vaccine provider or someone like myself who's worked in vaccinations for quite a number of years," she said.

Inventor of the nanopatch, University of Queensland Professor Mark Kendall said the technology could "quite possibly" break down the mentalities against vaccination as well as needle phobia.

In development for the past decade, Prof Kendall said if all continues to go well with human testing the product could be available within five years.

In saying that, Ms Trent said innovations like the nanopatch won't change the minds of some people.

"I think it will for some but I don't think it will for everybody, some people do have this fear of the vaccine, regardless of how it's delivered, actually causing disease and we know that can't happen," she said.

Like other technologies, Prof Kendall emphasised the importance of improving vaccines to enable the medicine to be accessible to all.

"We have cars for instance that we drive in and they are continually being improved and the car today is much, much better than the car 50-60 years ago," Prof Kendall said.

"Just like (cars), vaccines are a technology as well and they are continually improving over time."



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