Updated on 11 July 2012
Vaccine producers are also working to commercialize vaccines in Uniject devices, which are pre-filled syringes that combine vial, syringe and needle. They reduce vaccine wastage associated with multi-dose vials. The device has been used by UNICEF for tetanus elimination programs in countries such as Africa and Afghanistan.
Researchers are also exploring intradermal vaccine delivery as vaccines when administered directly under the skin may require lower doses. PATH is working with partners to refine an intradermal adapter for standard needles and evaluate micro-needle technologies. It is also exploring new vaccine formats for mucosal delivery (fast dissolving tablets) and sublingual delivery (thermoresponsive gels), which may enhance immunization effectiveness, safety and efficiency in low-resource settings.
In addition to the above, research is on to assess the effectiveness of delivering vaccines intradermally by using disposable syringe jet injectors (DSJIs) that can reduce the amount of vaccine required by up to 80 percent. These injectors generate a high pressure liquid stream that allows the vaccine to penetrate the skin without the need of a needle.
Bioject Medical Technologies, developer of needle-free injection therapy systems, has advanced the clinical research of intradermal delivery of vaccines in developing country immunization programs, in collaboration with PATH and WHO. Its Intradermal Pen is intended to improve the safety and ease of intradermal delivery of vaccines and enable immunization programs to stretch their supplies to benefit a larger number of beneficiaries.
Intranasal delivery is also an alternative. Multinational company AstraZeneca offers an intranasal vaccine FluMist, prescribed for age group of two to 50 years, for seasonal influenza in 2003. Serum Institute of India (SII) introduced India's first intranasal vaccine Nasovac against H1N1 virus in 2010. Similarly, Australia's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Royal Melbourne Hospital is conducting human trials for a nasal spray vaccine for type 1 diabetes.
There are many such institutions around the world that are working on developing new technologies for more effective vaccine delivery. Together with cutting-edge packaging technologies, they have the potential to revolutionalize immunization programs, especially in emerging countries where device disposals and logistics are issues.