Top 10 tips to avoid vaccination errors

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The PDL Professional Officers are aware of some issues relating to COVID-19 vaccinations administered by community pharmacists. To help minimise the risk of an incident occurring, refer to our tips below.

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.

No fault COVID-19 Indemnity Scheme

The Morrison Government has finalised the details of the no fault COVID-19 Vaccine Claim Scheme following extensive consultation with the peak medical, healthcare, business and insurance sectors to ensure a comprehensive National Scheme.

This scheme has been introduced to ensure health professionals administering vaccines will be able to continue with their crucial role in the vaccine roll out with the assurance that the claims scheme will offer them protection.

The cost of compensation payments under this Scheme will be fully funded by the Commonwealth and is designed to help the small number of people who unfortunately experience a moderate to significant adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Scheme will be backdated to February 2021 and provide Australians with an alternative, administrative option to seek compensation, rather than a complex and costly court process.

More information can be found on the Australian Government Department of Health website.

For immediate advice and incident support, call PDL on 1300 854 838 to speak with one of our Professional Officers. We are here to support our pharmacist members 24/7, Australia-wide.