Safe Injection & Multi-dose Vials

What Is It?

Safe injection includes practices intended to prevent transmission of infectious diseases between one patient and another or between a patient and healthcare provider, and also to prevent harm such as needlestick injuries.

All employees need to follow basic safe injection procedures.  

Safe techniques involve handling, preparing, and storing medications and injection equipment/supplies (e.g., syringes, needles, and IV tubing) to prevent microbial contamination and injury.

What Are Multi-Dose Vials (MDV)?

If you're giving medicine by injection, knowing what type of container you're drawing the medicine from is essential. Correctly identifying single-dose and multi-dose vials will prevent infections and can save lives.

A single-dose vial is intended for a single patient for a single case, procedure, and injection. The manufacturer labels single-dose vials and typically lacks an antimicrobial preservative.

A multi-dose vial contains more than one dose of medication. Multi-dose vials are labelled as such by the manufacturer and typically contain an antimicrobial preservative to help prevent the growth of bacteria. The preservative does not affect viruses or protect against contamination when healthcare workers fail to follow safe injection practices.


Multi-dose vials are NOT to be used unless there is no alternative available.

There is an increased risk of blood-borne viruses or bacterial contamination with multi-dose vials due to an increased risk of cross-contamination. 

These risks can be mitigated by

Using them for a single resident and labelled as such

Maintaining a strict aseptic technique when accessing multi-dose vials

Preparing doses from multi-dose vials in a clean, designated medication preparation area

Cleaning the stopper with an alcohol swab and allowing it to dry every time the vial is accessed

Using a new, sterile syringe and needle each time the vial is accessed; needles should never be left inside the vial

Discarding a multi-dose vial within 28 days of opening or if the vaccine's integrity or sterility is compromised


Watch a video on How to Give a Safe Injection (Opens in YouTube).