Top 10 tips to avoid vaccination errors

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With reports of some issues relating to COVID-19 vaccinations administered by community pharmacists, PDL shares advice on how to minimise risk of incidents

1. Check the AIR BEFORE vaccinating

Always check the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) BEFORE vaccinating to check the patient’s current vaccination status and interval between vaccines. This includes interval between 1st and 2nd COVID-19 vaccines.

2. Check patient’s DOB carefully

Calculate patient’s age in years from date of birth as all vaccines have minimum age restrictions which vary in each jurisdiction. The minimum age for Vaxzevria administered in community pharmacies in most jurisdictions is 18 years.

3. Ask the patient which vaccine they are expecting

Ask the patient to verbally state the vaccine (and brand for COVID-19 vaccines) they are expecting. This can reduce the risk of the wrong vaccine being administered.

4. Demonstrate good hygiene

Demonstrate good hygiene by sanitising hands before vaccinating and wearing a mask where required. Gloves and injection swabs may not be necessary.

5. Check patient contraindications

Check for contraindications and refer to a Medical Practitioner if you are unsure.

6. Ensure patients remain in pharmacy for 15 minutes

Explain to the patient the need to remain in the pharmacy for 15 minutes’ observation after vaccinating. Consider attaching a sticker with the time the patient can leave so expectations are clear.

7. Record ALL vaccinations in AIR

Make sure the vaccination event has been recorded in AIR within 24 hours.

For Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) Vaccinations:

8. Conduct a risk assessment and record informed consent

For Vaxzevria, perform a risk assessment and have a conversation with the patient of the risks and benefits for people under 60 years and record that informed consent has been obtained. Please be mindful that risk assessment and consent is a conversation, not just a box-checking exercise.

9. Provide guidance on adverse effects

Explain to the patient the side effects or reactions that require immediate reporting to a Medical Practitioner.

10. Ensure correct volumes if drawing up

If you are drawing up the vaccine, ensure you have the correct volume. An example of an error that has been reported is 0.05mL v 0.5mL.

Should an error occur, further advice should be sought from the appropriate state-based vaccination information provider.

Advice can also be sought by contacting the Australian Government Vaccine Operations Centre on 1800 318 208 or via their enquiries form.

There is advice for some of these questions on the Australian Government Clinical Considerations webpage.

For immediate advice and incident support, PDL Professional Officers are available on 1300 854 838, 24/7 Australia-wide.

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1 Comment

  1. Robert Broadbent

    Had my first AV on 21 April
    second on 14 Jul 21
    Register has changed from giving dates to identifying the first and second, now registers the first and then says I don’t need any more –
    I have chased this up with the Clinic, and the recording authorities, multiple, and still no date on second. Fortunately, for some reason, when asked whether I would like a personal copy of my immunisation history at the clinic, I said yes. But elsewhere, has, I am beginning to think, no record of the second. For a society that depends so much on data from which to develop statistical outcomes (whether misinterpreted or not) wouldn’t it be good to get the data right?

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