Technical advice: Nurses administering vaccinations

13 October 2021

Technical advice is our interpretation of how professional standards apply in a particular situation. It is designed to help veterinarians deal with common issues in practice, using their professional judgement to apply the advice to their own situation. It represents our best efforts at the time of publication but standards and expectations change over time and particular care should be used when reading old advice.

I have heard that there are clinics out there where vet nurses do the puppy and kitten 2nd and 3rd booster vaccinations instead of a vet.  I can’t find any regulatory requirement about that.  Is this an acceptable practice? 

Vaccines are generally Restricted Veterinary Medicines and, as such, two key sets of rules apply.

Firstly, the Veterinary Medicines section of the Code of Professional Conduct sets out the following:

Veterinarians must consider the risk of such use or recommendation to public health, trade in primary produce, agricultural security, animal welfare, occupational health and safety, and the environment and act accordingly toavoid or mitigate significant risks.

Veterinarians must:

Ensure they are satisfied that the choice and use of the product is justified and appropriate to achieve the intended effect and ensures the welfare of the animal.

Determine and provide the appropriate level of advice and training (if any) to:

a. administer the veterinary medicine safely and appropriately

b. monitor the effects of treatment on the animals /

c. make provision for veterinary intervention in the case of adverse effects.

Determine and provide the appropriate level of veterinary involvement (if any) required during and after administration so as to manage the risks.

Provide appropriate advice on how to manage residues and withholding periods in food-producing animals.

Provide advice on aspects such as correct handling and storage. Provide advice on how to dispose of unused or expired products.

Secondly - the ACVM Notice: Requirements for Authorising Veterinarians states:

1. An authorising veterinarian may only authorise the purchase and use of RVMs if he or she is satisfied he or she has sufficient information to support the authorisation.

2. Before issuing any veterinary authorisation the authorising veterinarian must:

a. establish that the purchaseholding for useuse of the RVM is appropriate and justified under the circumstances; and

b. confirm that any person who will administer the RVM understands and is able to competently carry out the authorising veterinarian’s instructions for use; and

c. provide direction (or make arrangements) to address anticipated adverse events that are likely to arise from the use of the RVM.

3. In regard to adverse events that threaten the welfare of the treated animal(s) that could arise from the use of the RVM, an authorising veterinarian must:

a. personally provide any emergency or follow-up care that may be required; or

b. make arrangements for another veterinarian to provide such care; or

c. provide the necessary instructions and training to be confident that a person, acceptable to the authorising veterinarian, will be available to provide the emergency or follow-up care that is likely to be needed.

With this in mind, we consider that a veterinarian, after seeing the animal at the first visit, may authorise the second and third vaccination to be administered by a veterinary nurse, if:

  • the authorising veterinarian is satisfied that the veterinary nurse is suitably trained and competent to assess the patient and administer the vaccination,
  • the veterinary nurse is authorised by the veterinarian to assess patients and administer vaccinations, and
  • the veterinary nurse adequately assessed the animal, gathered the appropriate information and addressed the points above.