Singapore's first painless flu vaccine

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans who avoid going for their flu jab due to fear of pain now no longer have an excuse to do so.

Just in time for one of two annual peak flu seasons starting in April, Sanofi Pasteur, the largest company in the world devoted entirely to human vaccines, has launched the first intradermal vaccination against influenza.

The intradermal microinjection system is administered only one to two millimetres into the skin, and the needle is 10-times smaller compared to the regular vaccine needle.

This means that the stress and discomfort levels patients experience are greatly reduced.

Over 96 per cent of those vaccinated in clinical trials were satisfied with the micro-injection system vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur said.

The system also provides better protection against influenza, as the vaccine is inserted into the top layer of the skin, which is a key component of the immune system.

This layer of the skin maximises the catchment and processing of Intanza's antigens, which researchers said stimulates the body's immunity response.

Healthcare professionals will also benefit through its user protection features. An integrated needle-shielding system is manually activated immediately after injection, to minimise the risk of needle-stick injury, contamination and illicit re-use.

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection or complications from influenza.

Among high risk groups such as the elderly, influenza vaccination reduces severe illnesses and complications by up to 60 per cent and deaths by 80 per cent.

"In tropical Singapore, influenza viruses circulate year-round, with a bi-annual increase observed in April to July and November to January," said Dr. Leong Hoe Nam, a Specialist in Infectious Diseases at Raffles Hospital.

"Influenza is not just a common cold, with associations to pneumonia circulatory and respiratory conditions, which can lead to deaths," he added.

Since one of main challenges in influenza prevention is convincing patients to get vaccinated, introducing a painless system to the public will help to better control influenza outbreaks, he said.