How To Safely Dispose of Needles After a COVID-19 Vaccination

We’ve all got used to the various changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought. Be it mask-wearing or social distancing, it’s fair to say that everyone has had to adapt their behaviour to some degree.

Now, the vaccination rollout is in full swing both here in the UK, and around the world. As of October 2021, almost four billion people around the world have had at least one dose of the vaccination and while this is great news in terms of getting back to normality, it has created something of a waste management issue.

If you work in a vaccination centre or any other facility that regularly handles sharps, it’s important that you correctly dispose of all waste products produced as a result of the vaccination drive.                   

What are the risks of sharps?

The most obvious risk surrounding vaccinations and other sharps is the potential to cut or scratch your skin. Sharps don’t just relate to needles, they include anything that can pierce the skin such as scalpels, razors and syringes. 

As well as this, the vials that sharps come in are made from glass and if they smash can cause harm. Not only can sharps cause injury by piercing the skin, but they can also lead to infections. It’s currently unknown whether COVID-19 can be transmitted via a needle prick, however, the likes of Hepatitis, HIV and more have been known to. According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 400,000 people become ill as a result of a blood-borne pathogen each year – showing it’s a significant issue.  

With this in mind, it’s always important to understand proper sharps disposal practices, and not just throw your used sharps in with general waste.  

How to safely dispose of needles and syringes?

Once a sharp, such as a vaccination needle, has been used it should be appropriately disposed of immediately. Do not leave it lying around. The sharp should be placed in a dedicated bin or disposal unit, with specialised bins available depending on the type of sharp being disposed of. 

These include:

Yellow-lidded sharps bins – for sharps containing medicinal products (such as vaccinations)   

Orange-lidded sharps bins – for sharps that do not contain medicinal products but may be contaminated with other substances such as blood

Purple-lidded sharps bins – for sharps that have been used for cytotoxic or cytostatic medicines

It’s important to not overfill your sharps bins. If you do, you run the risk of catching yourself on old needles as you place one inside. Most sharps bins come with a fill line which will indicate where you shouldn’t exceed. If there is no fill line, then use your best judgment but do not place any more sharps in once it gets to around 3/4 full. 

When your sharps waste is ready to be removed from your facility, your waste management contractor, such as Envirotec Hygiene Services, will be on hand to take it away for you. Next, it will likely go through the process of autoclaving which essentially means sterilisation to get rid of any harmful substances or residue. 

This means it can be recycled and reused. If for whatever reason this is not the case, they may end up in landfill.         

Sharp waste is not the only waste product produced in vaccination centres. Medical waste products are also commonplace, including PPE items such as face masks and gloves. These waste products also need to be properly disposed of in a plastic waste bag that is appropriately marked.      

Envirotec Hygiene Services Sharps Disposal  

Extreme care must always be taken in regard to sharps disposal. And at Envirotec Hygiene Services, we provide a comprehensive sharps disposal service, supporting facilities in a whole host of sectors. 

As well as supplying you with all the relevant sharps disposal bins to ensure you’re complying with the various legislation, we also offer a regular collection service. Here our team will take away your bins, replace them with new ones and give you peace of mind that everything is being taken care of in the right and proper manner. 

If you work in a vaccination centre or any other facility that frequently handles sharps, Envirotec Hygiene Services is on hand to help. Operating in Leicester, Rotherham, Doncaster and more, for more information on how we can help you, get in touch today.