What is a nasal vaccine?

A nasal vaccine is a vaccine that is administered through your nose without the use of a needle. It aims at delivering the vaccine directly into the respiratory passages that often come in contact with airborne microbes (microbes that can spread through air). 

The vaccine is either injected through a specific nasal spray or a syringe without a needle. According to health experts, the nasal route has excellent potential for vaccination due to the well organized immune system of the nasal mucosa (lining of the nasal cavity).

How does a nasal vaccine work?

As your nasal cavity is the primary entry point for airborne microorganisms, targeting the nasal cavity is one of the best lines of defence for vaccines. Your airways are lined by a moist layer called the mucosa. 

The mucosa contains various glands that produce mucus, which is a slimy, thick liquid that helps trap foreign particles and microorganisms from entering the airways. Therefore, the mucosa represents the body's first line of defence against outside pathogens. 

The nasal vaccine generates an effective mucosal immune response that stalls the outset and transmission of infection.

How are nasal vaccines different? 

Unlike other modes of vaccination such as oral or intramuscular (where the vaccine is injected in your muscle), nasal vaccines boost the immune response of the mucosa in the nasopharyngeal region (nose and throat), which is the common entry point for infectious organisms. 

Most injectable vaccines induce a systemic immune response by generating circulating IgE antibodies (a type of antibody that is commonly associated with allergic reactions) that neutralize pathogens before they can cause tissue damage. However, IgE antibodies cannot control the entry of pathogens into your body, which is possible by having mucosal immunity. 

Nasal vaccines help produce IgA antibodies (a type of antibody that plays a crucial role in the immune function of mucous membranes) at the site of viral entry, blocking them from entering your body. This makes nasal vaccines highly effective.

What are the benefits of nasal vaccines?

Nasal vaccines have a number of advantages compared to conventional vaccines, which includes:

  • They are not only highly effective but are also affordable compared to other intravenous (administered through your veins) and intramuscular vaccines.

  • It stimulates a broad immune response that helps in both, blocking and preventing the transmission of infection.

  • Due to the organized immune system of the nasal cavity, this method has excellent potential for vaccination.

  • It is an easy and non-invasive method for vaccination that does not require the use of needles. 

  • The cost of manufacturing and storage is also less as it does not require vials or syringes.

  • Studies show that the vaccine can also be used in individuals of all age groups including children.

Currently, with the world fighting the Coronavirus pandemic and with vaccines being the only hope, the usage of nasal vaccines for the COVID-19 infection will be another major breakthrough. 

Nasal vaccines for COVID-19 are currently under trial and are expected to be approved for public use soon.


1. News, I. and work?, E., 2021. Explained: What is a nasal vaccine and how does it work? | India News - Times of India. [online] The Times of India. Available at: <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/explained-what-is-a-nasal-vaccine-and-how-does-it-work/articleshow/78300926.cms> [Accessed 1 June 2021].

2. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.bharatbiotech.com/intranasal-vaccine.html#:~:text=An%20intranasal%20vaccine%20stimulates%20a,and%20transmission%20of%20COVID%2D19.> [Accessed 1 June 2021].

3. Biospectrumindia.com. 2021. Nasal vaccines: The way forward to tackle COVID-19?. [online] Available at: <https://www.biospectrumindia.com/views/17/18643/nasal-vaccines-the-way-forward-to-tackle-covid-19.html> [Accessed 1 June 2021].

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