The Risks of Administering COVID-19 Vaccinations and How to Avoid Them

COVID-19 vaccinations have begun in the United States with the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and now the Moderna vaccine, which have been made available to healthcare workers. With 2 more vaccines currently in stage 3 clinical trials, it is likely that doctors will be administering COVID-19 vaccines to the public in the upcoming months.

While healthcare providers prepare to administer the vaccines to patients, many are left wondering what steps they should take to ensure that they are protecting their patients as well as mitigate and any liability risks.

The COVID-19 Vaccine

  • The vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer have both been shown to be over 90% effective in preventing recipients from contracting COVID-19.
  • Protection is not immediate. The vaccine is administered in two doses and is only fully effective 1-2 weeks after the second dose.
  • It is still recommended that those who have taken the vaccine still comply with social distancing recommendations and mask requirements due to the limited information on the spread of COVID-19 from vaccinated people.

What risks do healthcare providers face when administering the COVID-19 vaccine?

Numerous states have granted their healthcare providers and facilities temporary limited protections from vaccination related claims due to COVID-19, but healthcare providers still face potential risks such as:

  • A patient missing the second dose of the vaccine, then contracting the virus and experiencing an adverse event that could lead to a suit filed against said provider/facility.
  • A lack of monitoring of a patient after the vaccine is administered that leads to the patient experiencing an allergic reaction or fainting and is injured upon falling.
  • Consent not being obtained, and patient experiencing a severe complication that leads to their inability to work.
  • Patient stating they would never had taken injection had they know about the complications that could arise.
  • Informed refusal not being obtained, and patient claiming they were unaware of risks of not taking vaccine.

How can provider reduce the risk of claims that come from administering the vaccine?

  • Use state approved vaccination consent form and document the consent on patient’s medical record.
  • Educate and train staff on accepted procedures, standards, and risk prevention methods.
  • Document efforts in administrative training files.
  • If there is a refusal to take a second injection, document refusal on why patient does not want to return in medical record and follow up with certified letter and phone call to patient explaining to patient the importance of returning. Document letter and call in the patient’s medical record.
  • Remind patient about the significant reduction in efficiency of vaccine should they not return for second injection, document in patients medical record.
  • Prepare for the potential management of anaphylaxis at COVID-19 vaccination sites.
  • Remind patients that no vaccine is 100% effective.
  • Inform patients of the immunization schedule and when they can expect to be at full immunization.


*Disclaimer: These are recommendations from Presidio Insurance and do not necessarily reflect the recommendations of the CDC. Not meant as legal advice.

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