How to avoid vaccination errors

To help minimise the risk of issues arising that relate to Covid-19 vaccinations, Pharmaceutical Defence Limited (PDL) Professional Officers have provided the following tips to avoid vaccination errors.

  • 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 the interval between the first and second Covid-19 vaccines.”
  • Check the patient’s DOB carefully. Raising awareness of the mental health crisis: “Calculate the patient’s age in years from the date of birth as all vaccines have minimum age restrictions, which vary in each jurisdiction. The minimum age for Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) administered in community pharmacies in most jurisdictions is 18 years.”
  • Ask the patient, which vaccine they are expecting: “Ask the patient to verbally the vaccine (and brand for Covid-19 vaccines) they are expecting. This can reduce the risk of the wrong vaccine being administered.”
  • 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.”
  • Check patient contraindications: “Check for contraindications and refer to a medical practitioner if you are unsure.”
  • 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.”
  • Record ALL vaccinations in AIR: “Make sure the vaccination even has been recorded in AIR within24 hours.”

For those receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, PDL recommend the following additional tips:

  • Conduct a risk assessment and record informed consent: “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.”
  • Provide guidance on adverse effects: “Explain to the patient the side effects or reactions that require immediate reporting to a medical practitioner.”
  • 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, PDL recommend that 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.

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