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Last week, the FDA informed health care providers that they should not be administering flu vaccines with needleless jet injectors, which have become more popular recently as an alternative to the traditional flu shot, administered through a needle. Jet injectors use a spring-loaded, high-velocity delivery system to inject vaccine into the skin without the need for a needle.

The federal agency said it had not evaluated use of the injectors for the influenza vaccine and had "no data to support the safety or effectiveness" of their use for that purpose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people who got the shots ask their doctors whether they should be revaccinated, spokesman Thomas Skinner said. –Pittsburgh Tribune

A number of pharmacies and other stores across the country have already complied with the FDA recommendation and said they would stop using jet injectors to administer the flu vaccine, including Giant Eagle, Rite Aid, and Kroger.

One of the leading manufacturers of jet injector technology, PharmaJet Inc., has publicly objected to the FDA recommendation and asked the FDA to justify its reasoning, arguing that the FDA previously gave the PharmaJet general clearance to use its jet injectors for the delivery of any liquid vaccine.

Contradicting this,

FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said the agency approved only the MMR vaccine — which protects against measles, mumps and rubella — to be administered with the jet injector. –Pittsburgh Tribune

It’s important to note, though, that the jet injector manufacturers are not being accused of anything illegal. While the FDA can and does recommend particular methods of administering a vaccine, it can’t legally prohibit a health care provider from using a different method.

Jet injectors are touted for being less painful than needles while removing any chance of needle stick injury and the need for needle disposal. In these ways they are similar to nasal sprays, which are also used to administer flu vaccine.

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