Recommendations addressing the use of alcohol prior to vaccination injections are inconclusive and based on little data. The goal was to see how efficient alcohol was at reducing local skin responses and infection after immunisation. A randomised controlled study was conducted at a paediatric clinic. A research assistant cleaned the skin with alcohol at or near the injection site. Clinicians, parents, and children were all blinded to the group assignment. Parents kept paper diaries for 15 days after immunisation to record local skin responses. Cellulitis and infectious abscess were diagnosed using the Brighton Collaboration criteria on Day 5 and later. There were 170 youngsters that took part. There were no differences in baseline characteristics across groups. Each child received 1–4 shots. There were no differences in the occurrence of any local skin responses, especially discomfort, redness, swelling, warmth, and spontaneous discharge of pus, between the swab and control groups during the post-vaccination follow-up period. Data from diaries and telephone surveys were available for 99 percent of participants on Day 5; there were no incidences of cellulitis or infectious abscess.
These findings are the first concrete evidence for vaccination injections indicating that alcohol cleaning of the skin may not be required. The study was underpowered; nonetheless, more research is needed to discover a difference in the incidence of skin infection.