Vaccine and Pharmaceutical Delivery Technologies

Disposable-syringe jet injectors

Changing the delivery landscape

By operating without the use of needles, disposable-syringe jet injectors (DSJIs) hold promise for overcoming many of the persistent challenges and risks associated with needle-based injections and sharps waste in low-resource settings.

About the technology

DSJIs use a sterile, single-dose syringe and a pressurized liquid stream rather than a needle to penetrate through the skin and deliver injections to the intradermal, subcutaneous, or intramuscular tissues. They are the only available needle-free technology that can deliver all injectable vaccines used in developing-country programs at all depths of delivery. In addition, no change in vaccine formulation is required. The simple design of some DSJIs may also help to facilitate the safe and effective administration of vaccines or essential medicines by less-trained health care professionals, and reduce unnecessary vaccine wastage following each injection.

An updated design

Today’s DSJI devices have been optimized for safety and effectiveness. They utilize a disposable-syringe design that is considerably different from previous designs, such as multi-use nozzle jet injectors or MUNJIs, which were first commercialized in the 1940s and used for five decades in mass vaccination campaigns against smallpox, measles, polio, meningitis, influenza, yellow fever, and cholera.1,2,3 MUNJIs were discontinued in the 1980s because their fluid paths, which came in contact with the vaccine, were not changed, increasing the risk of cross-contamination between patients.

By comparison, on most DSJI devices, the disposable-syringe component that comes into contact with the vaccine or medication and patient is sterile and for single use only. For these devices, once an injection is administered, it cannot be reused and must be discarded, eliminating the potential for cross-contamination. By removing the possibility for needlestick injury, the DSJI also holds promise for reducing sharps waste in low-resource settings.

Expanding the possibilities

PATH is working with several DSJI companies in partnership with various public-sector organizations and ministries of health to explore the potential of DSJI technology to facilitate new vaccination and drug delivery strategies in developing countries. As part of this effort, we continue to build on the DSJI evidence base by assisting with design assessments, clinical trials, and pilot introductions. Learn more about our ongoing research activities »

We also collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO) and DSJI manufacturers to formalize a WHO Performance, Quality, and Safety specification and verification pathway for the DSJI technology class, leading to the first WHO prequalification of a DSJI device in 2013. For more information on the specification, please contact us.

Additional information

1. Weniger B, Papania M. Alternative vaccine delivery methods. In: Plotkin SA, Orenstein WA, Offit PA, editors. Vaccines. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2013:1200–1231.

2. de Quadros CA, Hersh BS, Nogueira AC, Carrasco PA, da Silveira CM. Measles eradication: experience in the Americas. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 1998;76(Suppl 2):47–52.

3. Millar JD, Foege WH. Status of eradication of smallpox (and control of measles) in West and Central Africa. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 1969;120(6):725–732.