Administration of vaccines
The Green Book - Immunisation against infectious diseases contains advice on all aspects of vaccine
The RCN position in
relation to the role of health care assistants / health care support workers
(HCSW) and vaccine administration see:
Please ensure if
you are using a hard copy of these documents that you are using the most recent
For more information on the administration of vaccines in relation to Patient Specific Directions (PSD) and Patient Group Directions (PGD) please visit the medicines optimisation resource.
RCN online advice provides additional information and advice available for RCN members (login only). By searching for ‘immunisations’ you can find information on:
- vaccine administration
- the employer's responsibility to ensure they have an immunisation programme in place for health care employees
- the involvement of HCAs/APs in the provision of medication and immunisations
- training for healthcare staff involved in immunisations to ensure they maintain skills and competence
- immunisation policy throughout the UK
- the prescription and administration of vaccines by independent prescribers, nurses and midwives who are not prescribers and HCAs
- guidance for health care practitioners involved in travel health vaccination.
All staff involved
in administering vaccines should be suitably trained and competent to fulfil
the role and be able to answer questions with accuracy and confidence in line
with nationally agreed standards.
Storage and Cold Chain
The Green Book, chapter three
provides information on the correct storage of vaccines. As biological
substances, vaccines may lose their effectiveness quickly if they become too
hot or too cold at any time, especially during transport and storage. Incorrect
storage may result in the failure of the vaccine to protect, as well as resulting
in vaccine wastage.
Vaccine wastage has
significant cost implications estimated at approximately £2million per year.
reviews the best practice guidance
to provide clinicians with knowledge to effectively enhance local storage and
Keeping up to date
programme in the UK is constantly evolving to best protect the public by
controlling vaccine preventable diseases. Health professionals must keep up to
date with these changes.
The vaccine supply newsletter,
‘Vaccine Update’ comes out approximately every four to six weeks and can be
emailed directly to individuals upon request. Email: Vaccine.Supply@dh.gsi.gov.uk. This newsletter gives advice on current vaccine
availability, any changes to the schedule and updates to the Green Book.
‘Vaccine Update’ is
available to health care professionals across the UK. However, for country
specific information, see:
Travel health vaccination
UK figures for
overseas travellers have more than tripled since 1981 (Office for National Statistics, 2012)
and travel health medicine is a fast growing specialist area of practice. The
RCN guidance ‘Travel health nursing: career and competence development' defines the standards of care expected for a
competent registered nurse, experienced/proficient nurse and a senior
practitioner/expert nurse working in travel health nursing.
It is good practice to
support any advice you give with written information. Check that the
information printed from websites is up to date, evidence based and from a
As a general guide
when searching the web for information, ask yourself and encourage
patients, parents and carers to ask the following questions:
- who or what is behind the information?
- is the information biased, or possibly selected to present one view
- does the author have a vested interest in the information they are
- is it dated? There may be more current advice available.
- is it referenced and are uncertainties acknowledged?
In addition look for
websites providing reliable and trustworthy health information which have the
Health on the net HONcode.