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Technically Speaking
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November 2010
Technically Speaking
Monthly Column by Deborah Wexler, MD
Deborah Wexler MD
Technically Speaking is a monthly column written by IAC’s Executive Director Deborah Wexler, MD. The column is featured in The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center’s (VEC's) monthly e-newsletter for healthcare professionals. Technically Speaking columns cover practical topics in immunization delivery such as needle length, vaccine administration, cold chain, and immunization schedules.
Check out a recent issue of Vaccine Update for Healthcare Providers. The VEC e-newsletter keeps providers up to date on vaccine-related issues and includes reviews of recently published journal articles, media recaps, announcements about new resources, and a regularly updated calendar of events.
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING
Use Of Vaccines With Diluents
Published November 2010
Most vaccines come ready to administer in vials or prefilled syringes. However, 11 vaccines need to be reconstituted before being administered: ActHib®, Hiberix®, Menveo®, Menomune®, M-M-R II®, Pentacel®, ProQuad®, Rotarix®, TriHIBit®, Varivax®, and Zostavax®.
To reconstitute a vaccine, a lyophilized (freeze-dried) vaccine in one vial must be mixed with a diluent (liquid) in another. Diluents are not just for dissolving vaccines---they are designed to meet an individual vaccine's specific requirements in terms of volume, sterility, pH, and chemical balance. In addition, certain vaccine diluents include some of the antigens that are components of the vaccines. For example, the diluent for Pentacel includes DTaP and IPV antigens, and Menveo's diluent contains the MenCYW serogroup antigens. See Vaccines with Diluents: How to Use Them for details.
In most cases, diluents are not interchangeable (except for the sterile water used in Merck's M-M-R II, ProQuad, Varivax, and Zostavax). If the wrong diluent is used, the vaccination will always need to be repeated. If an inactivated vaccine is reconstituted with the wrong diluent and is administered, the dose is invalid and should be repeated ASAP. If a live vaccine is reconstituted with the wrong diluent and is administered, the dose is invalid and if it can’t be repeated on the same clinic day, it needs to be repeated no earlier than four weeks after the invalid dose. This spacing is due to the effects of generating a partial immune response that could suppress the live replication of subsequent doses, even of the same live vaccine.*
To minimize loss of vaccine potency, healthcare staff should reconstitute a vaccine just before administering it. Some vaccines must be discarded unless they are given immediately or within 30 minutes after they are reconstituted. Each vaccine’s package insert gives detailed instructions for reconstituting the product. It's important to read the instructions carefully BEFORE reconstituting the vaccine.
The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) has developed a handout that lists all vaccines that require diluents, the substance(s) in each freeze-dried vaccine, the substance(s) in each diluent, and the time limit before the reconstituted vaccine product must be discarded. Check out "Vaccines with Diluents: How to Use Them" for more information».
 
* Editor's Note: Correction issued December 10, 2012
2010 ISSUES >> view all
DECEMBER 2010
Administering Multiple Vaccines to a Child During a Single Office Visit
NOVEMBER 2010
Use of Vaccines with Diluents
OCTOBER 2010
Which Children Need Two Doses of Influenza Vaccine for the 2010-11 Season?
SEPTEMBER 2010
Proper Vaccine Administration
 
This page was reviewed on December 10, 2012
Immunization Action Coalition  •  Saint Paul, MN
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This website is supported in part by a cooperative agreement from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (Grant No. 5U38IP000290) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. The website content is the sole responsibility of IAC and does not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.