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Ed Yeates ReportingThe first high priority group of Salt Lake residents getting their flu shots this weekend will get a glimpse of what it might be like during a pandemic.
This Saturday the whole first floor at Salt Lake County's Government Complex will be turned into a mass flu inoculation center. And, for the first time, flu shots won't be coming from a needle.
In the science fiction "Star Trek," crew members get their shots, not from a needle, but a device that literally blows the vaccine into the skin. Well, it’s sci-fi no more. This Saturday the Salt Lake Valley Health Department will be doing just that, using a new hi-tech air gun that uses compressed carbon dioxide to blow the FLU vaccine through the skin.
This is not like the old guns used years ago. Biojector 2000, as it's called, is faster, safer, and more sophisticated. Instead of punching the skin with a needle and pooling the vaccine in one area, the air gun disperses it throughout the tissue.
Carol Evans, Public Health Nurse: “I think for this it’s just like being lightly flicked with a rubber band. That’s the sensation that I felt.”
Sue Nicodemus, Immunization Coordinator: "There is no needle in our biohazard disposal, so there's no possibility of having a contaminated needle stick injury."
Another advantage, because this device is needle-free, it can be used for mass inoculations, in fact, in a pandemic. And that's exactly what Salt Lake Valley Health will be training for while giving these flu shots.
If a bird flu pandemic hits, and If a vaccine were available, this is how the shots would be delivered.
Audrey Stevenson, Division Director: “Our goal was to have the ability to immunize 100-thousand individuals over a five day period of time.”
For the flu this year, the air guns could easily inoculate more than 4,000 people per day in the three scheduled mass clinics.