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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

News Release

October 6, 2020
ASPR Press Office: (202) 205-8114

HHS funds development of needle-free vaccine administration technology

A patch that could administer vaccines without traditional needles will receive development support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Under an approximately $22 million, 3-year agreement between the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and Vaxxas – headquartered in Brisbane, Australia with offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts – the company will undertake U.S. and Australian Phase 1 clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of an easy-to-use, high-density micro-array patch (HD-MAP) and other development activities for the patch.

“Protecting health and saving lives in public health emergencies such as pandemics often requires rapid, widespread vaccination among large groups of people, which poses multiple logistics challenges,” said BARDA Acting Director Gary Disbrow, Ph.D. “Imagine placing a patch on your arm or leg instead of having to go to a clinic or doctor’s office to get a shot. Not only would needle-free technology simplify vaccination logistics and potentially lower costs, but a self-administered patch also may improve vaccination rates.”

Micro-array patch technology has the potential to reduce the amount of vaccine required, which would help healthcare professionals provide vaccine to more people, an important consideration in a public health emergency. Patch technology also has the potential to offer a room-temperature-stable alternative to the cold chain required for some traditional vaccines, reducing the need for refrigeration in transport and storage.

A room-temperature product that does not use traditional needles and syringes could possibly be provided directly to consumers who could administer the vaccine patch themselves. This technology could reduce the need for needles and syringes used for the majority of immunizations which may reduce the cost of vaccinations, and would simplify vaccine administration.

The Phase 1 clinical trial, expected to start in 2022, will include more than 400 adult volunteers using unadjuvanted and adjuvanted (which includes an added agent to boost immune response) influenza vaccines. By using -pre-pandemic influenza vaccines for the clinical trials, the company more easily can determine the baseline immune response and safety of the micro-array technology, as well as the usability and acceptability of the technology.

HD-MAP is the latest next-generation technology to receive BARDA development support and part of a growing pandemic preparedness and response portfolio.

About HHS, ASPR, and BARDA:

HHS works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. The mission of ASPR is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. Within ASPR, BARDA invests in the innovation, advanced research and development, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products needed to combat health security threats. To date, 55 BARDA-supported products have achieved FDA approval, licensure or clearance. For more on BARDA’s development portfolios and on partnering with BARDA, visit To learn more about federal public health and medical preparedness and response, visit

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  • This page last reviewed: October 06, 2020