Background: Currently the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) recommend the use of a 23 gauge, 25 mm long needle inserted 45-60 degrees into the anterolateral thigh for paediatric vaccination.
Aim: To assess the compliance of general practitioners (GPs) in a rural practice division with vaccination practice (site and needle size and gauge) prescribed for infants and toddlers by the NH&MRC.
Method: In 1999, a questionnaire survey was sent by the divisional office to all 150 GPs in the Hunter Rural Division of General Practice. The questionnaire collected demographic data (age, gender, university of graduation, number of paediatric vaccines administered per week) and elicited responses about the site of vaccination and the size and gauge of needle to be used for children 2-18 months and 18 months and older.
Results: Completed questionnaires were available from 112 GPs (74.6% completion rate). There was a high level of compliance with the NH&MRC proscription of buttock vaccination with only 4.3% and 4.1% of responses to the question of vaccination site at 2-18 months and 18 months and older respectively nominating this site. The anterolateral thigh was the favoured site for vaccination in children 2-18 months old (77.5% of responses) with the deltoid being the favoured site in children 18 months and older (59.2% of responses). There was a very low level of compliance with the NH&MRC recommended standard needle (23 gauge, 25 mm long, blue hub needle) (3.5% of responses). The orange hub needle (25 gauge, 16 mm long needle) was most favoured (48.7% of responses) with additional strong support for the 25 gauge, 25 mm long needle (40.2% of responses).
Conclusion: In the Hunter Rural Division of General Practice there was good compliance with the NH&MRC's recommendations for site of vaccination, but not needle size and gauge to be used in infants and small children. Imprecise wording of these recommendations has created apparent uncertainty about the site of vaccination of children at 18 months of age.