Hug: A Way To Revolutionize Childhood Vaccinations
As a student at the University of Kansas, George Ressler learned of microneedle vaccinations being developed at Georgia Institute of Technology. He saw them as a painless way to provide childhood vaccinations. With the help of Georgia Tech’s research team he designed Hug, a vaccination system designed to be a solution and alternative to needle injected vaccines for children.
What Are Microneedle Vaccinations?
Microneedle vaccinations are patches made up of many microscopic needles that are placed onto the skin like you would put a Band-Aid or sticker. The vaccine is absorbed through the skin versus the muscle in traditional vaccine injections, allowing for a quicker and more effective immune response. Microneedle vaccinations are painless and easy enough to do at home, though they are still undergoing FDA testing.
Ressler saw the microneedle patch as a painless way to provide childhood vaccinations. He believes protecting your child against preventable diseases is as important and loving as a hug. But traditional vaccinations are painful for children and do not create happy memories. Ressler wanted to change that.
I have three children, and my partner and I chose to vaccinate all three. My twin boys just had their one year check-up and after a total of eight shots—four for each boy—my partner and I left feeling relieved that the appointment was done. We knew we did the right thing, but we were relieved because the anticipation and then reality of holding them down while they screamed through their shots were over.
The Hug vaccination system would eliminate many tears and much anxiety if it was available. George Ressler designed Hug for his thesis in Industrial Design while at the University of Kansas. But when talking to Ressler about Hug, I had to verify that this product was not yet available. The visual summary of his thesis and the Hug system seems so tangible and ready to use I thought it was on the market. However, until the microneedle patch is FDA approved, Hug is currently only a concept system from the mind of a very creative and hopeful man.
The Hug System
Hug is a vaccination system designed to be an alternative to needle injected vaccinations for children. With nine Hug patches, a child up to the age of 12 will be fully vaccinated. Since the patch can contain more than one vaccine, instead of a potential of four shots in one visit to the pediatrician, your child could receive one painless application of the Hug patch. This provides a more relaxed and happier memory than one that causes anxiety and fear in parents and children.
The Hug system is comprised of several components. The key component is the microneedle vaccine patch itself. The Hug patch comes in packaging labeled with a number that matches the corresponding vaccination schedule. Each package also contains an information card and a tracking ball. The tracking ball is visual confirmation of a completed vaccination and meant to entertain your child. The tracking balls are stuffed inside a stuffed Hug mascot and become collector’s items as your child completes all nine phases of the Hug patch schedule.
Hug also comes with a story book, which is fun for the kids but also a way to educate kids and parents on the reasons for vaccinations.
Hug Can Aid
Since the microneedle patch has a longer shelf-life, is cheaper than injectable vaccines, and can carry many vaccines per application, it is an exciting way to get vaccines to developing countries in desperate need of immunizations.
Ressler also designed a plan to get Hug to countries that need a better and cheaper way to get aid where it’s needed. The Hug patch would be attached to a card, which would also serve as a way to record information for each child who received a vaccination via Hug. After the card has been updated to indicate the latest vaccination schedule, it can be placed back into the box it came in, which doubles as a filing system to aid workers administering the vaccinations.
Not only is Hug cheaper than syringe vaccinations but it requires little training to administer, thus reducing the cost to organizations trying to help those who need them.
Microneedle vaccinations are still being tested, though they have been used on a small scale in a few countries. However, until they are FDA approved, the Hug vaccination system waits to revolutionize childhood vaccinations.