I recently received a question from a facility about how long you can store a prefilled syringe before administration.
Not long, is the short and simple answer to this question; not at all, to be more precise.
The National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) strongly recommends that providers draw vaccines only at the time of administration , and prefilled syringes shouldn’t be stored for any length of time.
Your facility may receive medication or vaccines from a supplier that is prefilled. Those manufacturer-filled syringes are okay to use because they are prepared under sterile conditions and manufacturers are required to follow specific standards for handling and storage.
The NCIRD cites a number of complications that can result from prefilling and storing syringes:
- It makes it difficult to identify different vaccines and medications
- There is a greater risk for storing the vaccine or medicine under inappropriate conditions
- Prefilled syringes can become contaminated, and most are designed for immediate administration
- Vaccine components could interact with the plastic syringe components and potentially reduce the potency of the medication
Perhaps most importantly prefilling syringes elicits myriad patient safety and infection control considerations. If you aren’t the one who draws up the vaccine yourself, you have no assurance of the sterility of the dose.
Influenza vaccines are the most common example of this practice. Once the vaccines arrive at the medical facility, it’s the facility’s job to properly store them. You can download vaccine storage checklist on the Tools page of OSHA Healthcare Advisor .
For related infection control information including safe infection practices, program building, and infection prevention best-practice, register for the April 21st Webcast, “Infection Prevention Survey Strategies for ASCs: Comply with CMS’ Conditions for Coverage .”