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ATAGI advice on use of sedation for COVID-19 vaccination

April 26, 2022

Receiving a vaccine can be a source of severe anxiety for some individuals with anxiety disorders or needle-phobia and may be difficult in certain individuals with behavioural disorders. A tiered approach should be used, beginning with non-pharmacological measures such as a low-sensory environment, a comfort person/object, music or videos, relaxation techniques or cognitive behaviour therapy (for anxiety/needle phobia).

In patients where non-pharmacological techniques have failed, sedation may facilitate safe administration of vaccines in some special circumstances. Informed consent must be obtained prior to each dose from the patient, or, where the patient does not have capacity to give consent, from the parent, guardian or substitute decision-maker. Sedation should not be used as a measure to enforce compliance with vaccination requirements. The choice of sedative agent and the degree of sedation required will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

For full guidelines and information, visit the Department of Health website.