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Gov. Hickenlooper Gets His New FDA-Approved Needle-Free Flu Shot

DENVER (CBS4) - Flu season is just around the corner and Gov. John Hickenlooper got his flu shot on Monday, but he barely felt it. The governor's vaccine was injected without a needle.

It was a first, both for the governor and for flu shot delivery. The needle-free technology is the first approved by the Food and Drug Administration for giving a flu vaccine, and the injector was invented by a Colorado company.

Hickenlooper Flu Shot
Gov. John Hickenlooper preparing for his flu shot (credit: CBS)

"It's natural to be anxious about getting an injection," said Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Even Wolk gets nervous about needles.

"It was great, I loved it," Wolk said after getting his needle-free flu shot.

Hickenlooper was next.

"I couldn't feel it," he said.

The two flu shots in the governor's office were a reminder that it's time to get vaccinated.

"We had 1,800 hospitalizations last year from the flu," Hickenlooper said.

The shots were given by PharmaJet, a company in Golden that developed the needle-free technology. It's already being used in other countries. A spring in the injector fires medicine from a disposable syringe. It acts like a liquid needle.

The governor calls it almost painless.

"It's that fine line between sensation and pain," he said.

According to PharmaJet, 25 percent of people avoid a flu shot because of the needle. The good news is the FDA has approved the injector for use with the Afluria influenza vaccine, one of four flu vaccines available.

flu shot needle-free
(credit; CBS)

The bad news is Afluria is in short supply in Colorado.

"This next year, as the flu buying season comes around again, we'll be widely available here," said Heather Callender-Potters, Pharmajet Co-Chairman and Global Business Development Officer.

So there will be no shot without the stick this flu season in Colorado, but it's something to look forward to next year.

The PharmaJet injector is being used in Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Germany and other countries. It's great for health care workers because it's easy to use, eliminates needle stick injuries, prevents the reuse of needles, and there is no need for needle disposal.

LINK: PharmaJet | Needle-Free Injection Technology


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