Pain-free flu shots?

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on October 14, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 15 at 1:31 PM

DALLAS - To say 6-year-old Nick Baker is reluctant to get a flu shot would be a giant understatement.

"I don't want to do it," said the crying boy to his father.

"He will do anything he can to get away from the doctor's office," said Carolyn Baker, Nick's mother. "When it comes to shots, anything."

The entire Baker family is getting a flu shot, in part to protect a new baby in the household from the potentially dangerous virus.

This year, the Bakers are trying a new approach to overcome the kids' flu shot phobia. They've brought them to the "Ouch-Free Zone" at Doctor's Express in Dallas, where a brand-new, needle-free flu vaccine is available.

The device does not use a sharp needle of any kind. Instead, it spring loads the liquid and injects it like a high-powered squirt gun.

"It literally pushes the medication at such velocity," said Darrell Cartwright, Pharmajet device. "It actually pierces the tissue."

Vaccine experts at a recent conference said the needle-free device offers as much protection as a traditional shot, which goes directly into the muscle. They work better than a traditional flu shot because the liquid jet passes through a layer of skin rich in cells that absorb medicine quicker.

Because medicine is absorbed better, less vaccine could be used. That may allow health officials to stretch vaccine in times of shortage.

Skin reactions like redness, itching and swelling are reported to be more likely with the needle-free device.

Nick's older brother, Joe, was impressed and surprised the needle-free vaccine did not hurt.

The device only made a popping sound.

For Nick, there could be no convincing. He claimed the experience still hurt.

Some say it may.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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