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How big are the needles used to deliver COVID-19 vaccine?

WCPO larry vaccine delivery.png
Posted at 6:32 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 18:57:47-04

Even if you haven’t gotten your COVID-19 shot yet, you’ve gotten a good look at the needles used to deliver them. We — along with hundreds of other news outlets across the country — use photos and video of syringes and needles to illustrate our stories about the ongoing vaccination effort.

Those images didn’t sit right with one viewer, who wrote to us this week: “I am a COVID vaccine clinic nurse, and it looks like you are showing 3-inch needles on your stories about the vaccine. That is scaring people from getting the shots. Our needles are one inch.”

We were taken aback. Moreover, we were curious. The question of needle size had never occurred; now that it had, we wanted to know. How big are the needles used to deliver the COVID vaccine?

The size of needle a vaccine patient should expect depends on the patient, Hamilton County Public Health head Dr. Steven Feagins said Tuesday.

“Normally, we use half-inch needles,” he said. “Above a certain weight — 220 in females; 260 in males — you go to a one-and-a-half-inch needle.”

Some nurses have found that a one-inch needle helped clinics get an extra dose out of each vial, serving more patients per vaccine shipment.

So, it’s not the three-inch jab that your trypanophobic brain might fear, but it’s also not the tiny poke used to deliver insulin to diabetics. Most patients should expect to receive a shot from a needle between a half-inch and 1.5 inches.

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Senior Reporter Larry Seward is focusing his reporting on the COVID-19 vaccine to bring you answers and information. Contact Larry at 513-667-4804 or larry.seward@wcpo.com.