Criteria for Needle Selection for Immunization Administration

Age Group Site Length Gauge
Infants Thigh 5/8" - 1" 22-23
Older Children Thigh 7/8" - 1-1/4" 22-25
Deltoid 5/8" - 1-14" 22-25
Adult Men Deltoid 1" - 1-1/2" 20-25
Women under 70 kg Deltoid 1" 20-25
Women 70-100 kg Deltoid 1-1/4" 20-25
Women over 100 kg,
Obese men
Deltoid Perhaps 2" 20-25

What is the appropriate needle length for intramuscular injections for infants, children, and adults? For IM vaccines, use a needle that precludes vaccine from seeping into subcutaneous tissue, which may decrease the vaccine's efficacy and increase local adverse reactions. Note that the fixed 5/8" needle on many prefilled syringes is acceptable only if it can penetrate the patient's muscle. (Poland GA, et al. JAMA 1997;277:1709-11.)

Another study recommends using a 7/8" needle in young children if the tissue is bunched at the injection site. If the skin is stretched instead, a shorter needle is acceptable. (Groswasser J, et al. Pediatrics 1997; 100:400-2.)

For subcutaneous injections administered to infants and adults, a 5/8 to 3/4 inch, 23-25 gauge needle should be inserted into the tissues below the dermal layer of the skin.

(Excerpts of this article taken from Booster Shots, a quarterly supplement to ImmunoFacts, February 1998, Facts and Comparisons.)

Last updated: November 23, 2000


NP Central
10024 S.E. 240th St., Suite #102, Kent, WA 98031
Phone: 253.852.9042 Fax: 253.852.7725
NP Central Gateway

Use of this section indicates you agree to the Terms of Use.
Copyright 1994-2003 NP Central