Colorado company develops a flu shot — without a needle

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Needle-free injector
The device shoots a narrow stream of medicine into a person's skin.

With flu season in full swing, there's a new option for flu vaccinations. Golden-based PharmaJet has developed an injection device that shoots a narrow stream of fluid into a person's skin without using a needle.

Heather Potters, co-founder and co-chairman of PharmaJet, says she and her mother originally came up with the idea because of concern for patient safety, particularly in developing countries.

In some countries, as many as 70 percent of needles are reused, leading to the spread of disease. She says PharmaJet's device also reduces the risk of accidents where health workers accidentally prick themselves with contaminated needles.

Potters says the product is also appealing to people who are squeamish about needles. She says it's not uncommon for people to go without a flu vaccine because they are frightened of needles.

A study published earlier this year in the journal The Lancet found PharmaJet's device compared favorably to traditional needles. But, the study also noted, the needle-free injector was "associated with a higher frequency of local injection site reactions."

Currently, patients can choose from a variety of options when getting flu vaccines, including a nasal spray and traditional injections. PharmaJet says its needle-free injections are just as effective, though doctors recommend the nasal spray as the most effective vaccine for children ages two to eight.