Vaccine Dose

For many vaccines, single-dose vials are available to allow ease of administration, cut down on dosing errors, and prevent accidental contamination of the vaccine vial. However, these vaccines are obviously more costly to make due to the additional packaging for each dose of the vaccine. Ask your doctor about how the vaccines that your child is getting are supplied.

The amount of liquid given in each injection is the same for most vaccines. Typically, 0.5 ml (milliliter) of the liquid form of the vaccine is drawn up in the syringe and injected. The exceptions include the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine for adults (people older than eighteen years), where 1 ml of the vaccine is injected. Another notable exception is the killed flu vaccine. For children less than three years of age, only 0.25 ml of the vaccine is given. Children older than three receive the same amount of the vaccine (0.5 ml) as adults. Finally, the rotavirus vaccine is an oral vaccine. It comes in single-dose 2 ml vials, and the vaccine is squirted into the child's mouth in its entirety.

Alert

Prior to administering the vaccine, the nurse or medical assistant needs to double-check the expiration date to ensure that the vaccine has not expired. In addition, the lot number of each vaccine, the dose, and the location of administration for each vaccine must be clearly documented in your child's medical record with each vaccination.

Each vaccine must be prepared in the syringe or its own container just before it is given. Drawing up multiple vaccines in advance before they are ready to be given is a bad idea. Once the vaccine is drawn into syringes, they all look the same. It can be impossible to distinguish which syringe contains which vaccine. If multiple vaccines are drawn immediately prior to administration, they need to be clearly labeled so if something happens during the injection process it is known which vaccine was not administered. Giving shots to squirming children is a tough job, and a lot can happen between the time when the vaccine is drawn into the syringe and when the needle hits the skin. An experienced nurse should always be prepared for the unexpected.

If the whole process of transporting, storing, preparing, and charting the vaccination sounds complicated, it is. This is why before each vaccine is given the person administering the vaccine is required by law to double-check with another health-care provider (either another nurse or the doctor) to make sure that no mistakes have been made during the preparation process. Ask your doctor or nurse about the specific protocol that is being practiced at your doctor's office.

Finally, if you want to get the nitty-gritty details of the exact vaccine storage and administration protocol specified by the federal government, you can refer to this site: www2a.cdc.gov/vaccines/ed/shtoolkit.

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