By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Only 40 percent of adults in the US get flu shots every year. Now researchers are testing a new way to deliver the flu vaccine.

Doctors say many people don’t get yearly flu shots because they don’t like needles but now scientist are working on an alternative.

A new skin patch could change the way some people receive their annual flu vaccine. The band-aid like patch contains microscopic needles that deliver the vaccine and dissolve.

Researchers from Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology are testing the new breakthrough.

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A new study in the journal The Lancet looked at 100 healthy adults.

“We designed it so that people could self-administer just with the press of a thumb,” Georgia Tech researcher Mark Prausnitz said.

Researchers found the “microneedle” patch to be safe and effective.

“It also allowed subjects who were vaccinated to mount an excellent immune response,” Dr. Nadine Rouphael of Emory University School of Medicine.

Reactions were mild with some redness and itching .

More than 70 percent of the participants  preferred the patch over the usual injections, which researchers say could increase vaccination rates.

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“Our goal is to make it so that people can receive their flu vaccination and be able to do that at home by themselves without the complexities of having to know how to use a needle and syringe, or really have to go to a doctor or a nurse to have that done,” Prausnitz said.

Scientists hope to have the flu vaccine patch available within 5 years.

Researchers also say the vaccine patch can be stored and distributed without being refrigerated.

“Microneedle” patches are also being developed for other vaccines like measles.

Stephanie Stahl