Safety of vaccine administration

NRAs and vaccine manufacturers provide guidance on how to prepare and administer vaccines correctly. The national immunization programme, as part of the national health delivery system, is responsible for ensuring that health workers and local vaccinators are trained to prepare and administer vaccine correctly.

It is vital that health workers or local vaccinators are trained to store and handle vaccines properly, reconstitute and administer vaccinations correctly, and have the right equipment and materials to do their job.

In WHO's Immunization in Practice57, Module 4 discusses practices that health workers should follow to deliver immunization injections safely. Click on the link to read the document:

Ensuring safe injections

The correct technique for preparing and administering a vaccine must be followed to ensure that it is effective and does not result in an AEFI caused by immunization errors. Given that immunizations are often administered to a large segment of the healthy population, and often are delivered in remote underserved areas, immunization errors are always a concern. To read more about immunization errors, go to Module 3, Immunization error related reaction.

The following steps should be taken by the national immunization programme to avoid immunization errors:

  • Train immunization workers adequately, provide refresher updates and ensure close supervision so that proper procedures are being followed.
  • Do not store other drugs or substances in the refrigerator of the immunization centre. This will avoid mix-up between vaccine vials and other drug containers and minimize immunization errors. If stored together, a drug risks being given instead of a vaccine or an inappropriate diluent.
  • Use sterile, preferably single-use, auto-disable syringes for all injections. If only multi-use syringes are available, sterilize them adequately after each use.
  • Reconstitute the vaccine only with its specific diluent supplied by its manufacturer.
  • Discard reconstituted vaccines within 6 hours or at the end of each immunization session (whichever comes sooner).
  • Carefully conduct epidemiological investigation of an AEFI to pinpoint the cause and how to improve immunization practices where necessary.
  • Monitor persons receiving vaccines for 20 minutes after vaccination.