- Currently, an injection is the only way to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Oral and nasal vaccines are in the testing phase and could be available to the public by 2022.
- Providing comfort and support to your child can help him or her get an injection.
As the world looks to launch the first COVID-19 vaccines, many parents may be wondering, is there another way?
Oral vaccines and intranasal vaccines are currently being tested for use in the United States, but since the injectable vaccine is most familiar to vaccine developers, this technology is at the forefront.
The original COVID-19 injectable vaccines, such as the currently distributed Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, have led the way because vaccine manufacturers understand the technology so well. The urgency of this vaccine means that known technologies are the fastest way to produce results.
Injectable vaccines are relatively easier to develop.
– ZHENGRONG CUI, dr
Zhengrong Cui , a professor of molecular medicine and drug delivery at the University of Texas, says: “There has been a persistent interest in the development of several mucosal vaccines. However, injectable vaccines are relatively easier to develop. «
The injection route also ensures that the vaccine is fixed in the body to take effect. Sneezing and vomiting responses may endanger the expulsion of vaccines from the mucosa.
The disadvantage is that injectable vaccines have lower thermostability (ability to maintain efficacy at different temperatures), needles present a risk of injury to health workers, 1 and the injections cause pain. Only this pain and fear of needles can prevent some members of the public from opting for vaccination.
In addition, this technology only provides systemic immunity, which means that an immune response is activated only after the virus enters the bloodstream. Although systemic immunity is required, oral and nasal passages claim to provide systemic immunity in addition to mucosal immunity.
Mucosal vaccines combine oral and intranasal vaccines in this general term. The reason is that both vaccines act to induce a mucosal immune response as well as a systemic immune response.
A mucosal immune response means that when the virus enters the nasal cavity or mouth, the immune cells in the mucosa (the mucosa of the nose and mouth) will mount a local defense.
Dr. Sarah Browne , MD, an immunologist and senior director for vaccine development at Altimmune. explains that even after an injectable vaccine, people can still carry the virus in their noses. She says: “Many people do not realize that they may need to wear masks after vaccination. Although they can be protected against disease, they can still be worn [el] virus in the nose. «
However, he says, «an intranasally administered vaccine could sterilize the nose and block transmission to others.»
«This will help children go back to school and reduce [el] the risk of spreading the infection among school friends, teachers or carrying the virus to older and more vulnerable homes, «explains Browne.
Browne is currently working on a COVID-19 intranasal vaccine . The company aims to advance the vaccine in Phase 3 clinical trials in 2021, with an encouraging launch of the vaccine in 2022.
She explains: «The vaccine is given as a small spray of liquid that is given as a mist in each nostril and is absorbed by the immune cells that are present in the nasal mucosa.»
The vaccine is given as a small liquid spray that is given as a mist in each nostril and is absorbed by the immune cells that are present in the nasal mucosa.
– DR. SARAH BROWNE, MD
Although the vaccine is still in clinical trials, Browne is optimistic that a single dose of the COVID-19 intranasal vaccine could provide a minimum of 12 months of immunity.
Stabilitech is currently testing a COVID-19 oral vaccine. Similar to intranasal vaccines, the company claims that this route of administration provides mucosal and systemic immunity, thermostability and greater acceptance in the community.
For the adult population, the idea of taking a capsule rather than receiving a needle may be more appealing. But it should be noted that this may not be suitable for adults with pre-existing concerns related to intestinal problems or absorption problems.
Also, for most children, swallowing a capsule is not only impractical, but also a choking hazard for younger children.
Helping children with the vaccine
In 2021, injectable vaccines are likely to be only available option for COVID-19 vaccines.
Although an intranasal vaccine may be available in 2022, many parents understand that even a mist of liquid in the nose can be disturbing for many children.
Vanessa Anderson, a nurse for children, offers advice to parents to help their children in the vaccination process:
Be honest with your child. Tell them it will burn a little, but it’s fast.
Talk about the importance of vaccination a few days before the appointment. This is especially useful for older children who can see the effect that COVID-19 has on us. Don’t forget to explain it in terms that your child understands, depending on their age.
- Let the child bring a special toy or blanket for comfort.
- Be available for hugs and reinsurance.
Caregivers play a vital role for younger children. You may be asked to hold your baby in your lap in a certain position to allow the nurse to safely administer the injection (or nasal vaccine).
Consider doing something fun later as a gift. Something your child can look forward to.
- Whenever possible, consult a doctor or nurse you are familiar with or who is trained to work with children.