question and answer
Picking the right needle for the jab
December 2002
"What gauge and needle length should I use for immunizing infants, children and adults?" asks A. ALBERT ANNEN, MD, of London, ON. He explains, "I've always used a 25-gauge, 5/8-inch needle for immunizations in children and infants. Recently, however, I was told I should be using a 1-inch needle."
When administering intramuscular vaccines, it's essential that the needle be long enough to reach the target muscle. A 5/8-inch needle is reasonable for small infants, but normal-sized toddlers require a M-1-inch needle. Older children should be vaccinated in the deltoid or thigh with a 1-inch needle. A 22-25-gauge needle should be used for adolescents and adults, and the deltoid is preferred in this population. The following is a guide to the appropriate length of needles: *1-1 « -inch for males weighing less than 120 kg; *1-inch for females weighing less than 70 kg; *1 « -inch for females weighing 70-100 kg; * 2-inch for males weighing more than 120 kg and females weighing more than 100 kg. Subcutaneously-administered vaccines should be delivered with 5/8-3/4-inch, 23-25-gauge needles inserted into a pinched upper thigh or arm. DM
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