Unfortunately, vaccine administration errors happen all too often. To avoid this situation, it is essential that all clinic staff members be well trained in proper vaccine administration technique. Avoiding vaccine administration errors will save your clinic time and money, as well as potential embarrassment. Most importantly, it can prevent your practice from having unprotected patients who must be recalled to have doses repeated.
The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) receives frequent inquiries from healthcare professionals regarding vaccine administration errors and what to do about them. Some of the most common errors are:
- Administering the wrong vaccine (e.g., DTaP vs. Tdap; PPSV vs. PCV; varicella vs. zoster)
- Administering the wrong dose of vaccine for the patient’s age (e.g., pediatric HepB to an adult)
- Administering vaccine by the wrong route (intramuscularly vs. subcutaneously)
- Administering expired vaccine
- Using the wrong diluent when mixing a vaccine or administering diluent alone
- Administering a dose of vaccine to the wrong patient
To prevent these errors from happening, make sure that everyone who administers vaccines is properly trained and that you use standardized protocols for vaccine administration. The following resources can help with training for new staff, as well as for providing periodic refreshers for all staff members.
Immunization Techniques: Best Practices with Infants, Children and Adults. This 25-minute DVD was developed by the Immunization Branch, California Department of Public Health, and is available for a nominal charge from the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC). It provides excellent training for new staff members and is a first-rate refresher for experienced staff.
Print resources for administering vaccines from IAC
Several free print materials are available for downloading from IAC’s Administering Vaccines Web section. Some of the most utilized materials are:
Related resources from IAC and other organizations
Do you have a question about vaccine administration errors? Check out IAC's "Ask the Experts" archive for Q&As answered by CDC experts. If you are unable to find answers to your specific vaccine administration questions, e-mail CDC at firstname.lastname@example.org or IAC at email@example.com for answers.