Vaccination tips 101:
* Disinfect syringes & needles only with boiling water, NEVER use alcohol, soap,
bleach or other chemicals. Their residue kills modified live vaccines & damages killed vaccines.
* Use sterile syringes. Completely take apart multidose syringes after each working and
boil them in water. Afterward, put them back together and store them in a clean, dry place. If you can't
take your syringes apart, draw boiling water into them.
* Do not enter a bottle to draw out a vaccine with a used needle.
* Avoid using a disposable syringe to give multiple doses.
* Use the first draw of vaccine to lubricate the syringe. Don't use vaseline, mineral
oil or silicone.
Provide Some Injection Basics
One of the most important aspects
of quality in our industry is performing injections properly. Let's cover some basics.
- Adequate restraint is a basic
requirement. Every effort should be made to have the animal still when administering an injection.
during intramuscular (IM) injections increases muscle damage, and could cause a significant portion of the injection to be
deposited subcutaneously (SC). Movement during SC injections may lead to a significant portion of the injection ending up
In either case, the result is a product in a different site than intended. This may affect efficacy and can contribute
to an altered withdrawal time.
The SC "tented technique," where the skin is pinched and raised with one hand while
injecting parallel to the hide with the other hand, should only be used when the animal is restrained in a squeeze chute or
otherwise completely immobile.
- Proper injection sites must be
periodically reviewed. The injection site audit work available to our industry illustrates the importance of staying away
from the top butt for all injections and confining IM injections to the neck.
Even within the neck region, there are
specific areas to target for IM injections. The best way to learn the boundaries of the injection site triangle in the neck
is to ask for an anatomy lesson from your veterinarian (especially during a necropsy) or attend an injection site demonstration.
If you're giving IM neck injections in front of the head gate, you're likely giving injections too far forward in
the neck. Consider SC-labeled products whenever possible.
- Separation between injection
sites is as important as site selection. Moving the needle only an inch or two between sites essentially creates one big site.
Moving a hands-breadth away for the next site is a good rule to follow.
On small calves, this may mean only two to
three injections/side of the neck. Consult the label and your veterinarian before moving behind the shoulder for SC injections
over the ribs. If you find yourself routinely running out of injection sites, it's time for an in-depth evaluation of your
preventive and therapeutic programs.
- Read and follow volume-per-site
instructions. This isn't an issue for most vaccines due to smaller injection volumes, but it's extremely important for antibiotics.
It's a rare case where more than 10-15 ml./site is indicated. (An ml. is equivalent to a cubic centimeter, abbreviated as
- Needle selection and care are
essential to quality assurance. A 16-ga. needle is the maximum size for IM injections. Keep antibiotics warm in the winter
rather than resort to a 14-ga. needle. Or consider cold-weather injection characteristics through a 16-ga. needle during drug-selection
consultations with your veterinarian.
An 18-ga. needle may be used for administration of some products, but proper
restraint becomes more important to avoid bending and possible breakage of these small needles.
Discard bent needles.
Never straighten and reuse them due to potential breakage.
Needle length for SC injections shouldn't exceed ¾ in.,
and in. may be your best choice. Many IM injections can be done with a 1-in. needle. If you feel resistance as the needle
penetrates the hide, check for barbs. It's probably time for a new needle.
product integrity (sterility and efficacy) includes always drawing the product from the original container and paying attention
to sanitation of syringes and injection systems. Hopefully, our industry has moved beyond the inappropriate practice of mixing
multiple containers of products together in large bags at the chute.
A new sterile needle should be used every time
you draw product from a multi-use container that will not be used immediately. The rubber stoppers in these bottles also tend
to dull needles very quickly. And, remember that even traces of soap or disinfectants left in syringes can inactivate modified-live
Remember that your injection techniques have a big impact on meat quality, personnel safety and product efficacy.
Review your practices with your herd health veterinarian.
For more information, visit the Great Plains Veterinary
Education Center site at gpvec.unl.edu/files/feedlot/B_injdia.pdf and gpvec.unl.edu/files/feedlot/B_inj_d.pdf.
Apley, DVM, PhD, Iowa State University; and W. Mark Hilton, DVM, Purdue University