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How to Withdraw Medicine from a Vial

Sometimes you may have to withdraw a medicine from a small vial (bottle) using a syringe. It is important to keep the medicine sterile (germ free) and withdraw the correct dose.

The following steps will help you withdraw medicine from a vial.

Always follow the instructions given by your care team.

Supplies needed

  • Syringe with needle
  • Vial of medicine
  • Alcohol prep pad
  • Extra needle (if needed)

Always read the medicine label

Check the:

  • Name of the medicine
  • Dose of medicine
  • Expiration date
  • Instructions for use
Photo of syringe needle withdrawing medicine from glass vial

How to draw up medicine

  1. Gather your supplies.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  
  3. Remove the cap from the vial to expose the rubber stopper.
  4. If you are told to mix the medicine, gently roll the vial between your hands. Do not shake the vial unless you have been told to do so.
    • You may have a vial that has a liquid and powder in 2 sections. Push down on the plunger on the top of the vial to release the liquid into the powder. Then, gently roll the vial between your hands to mix.
  5. Clean the rubber stopper with an alcohol prep pad for 7 seconds. Let the stopper air dry. Do not blow air on it. 
  6. Remove the syringe from its package. Twist the attached needle to make sure it is firmly in place. 
  7. With the needle cover still on the needle, pull back on the plunger and pull air into the syringe. The amount of air pulled into the syringe should be the same as the prescribed dose of medicine. 
  8. Carefully pull the needle cover straight off the needle. Do not touch the needle.
  9. Place the medicine vial on a stable, flat surface. Insert the needle through the rubber stopper. If the needle touches anything other than the cleaned stopper, discard the needle and start over.
  10. Push the plunger of the syringe down and push air into the vial. The air will allow the medicine to be withdrawn more easily. 
  11. Keeping the needle in the vial, turn the vial upside down. Make sure the needle is in the liquid medicine. 
  12. Slowly pull back on the plunger and let the medicine enter the syringe. Fill the syringe to the prescribed dose.
  13. Check for air bubbles in the syringe. To remove the air bubbles, gently tap the syringe until the bubbles rise to the top of the syringe barrel. Then push the plunger, forcing the air out of the syringe. Once again pull the plunger back to the number that matches the prescribed dose. Double check for air bubbles. Repeat these steps if needed. 
  14. Double check that the correct dose is in the syringe. 
  15. Take the needle out of the vial. While holding the syringe with needle pointing up, push the plunger up until a tiny drop of medicine is seen on the needle tip. Carefully recap the needle. 
  16. Throw the medicine vial away.

How to change the needle on the syringe

For some medications, you may need to use a new, sterile needle to give the medicine. You will remove the needle you used to withdraw the medicine from the vial and replace it with a new needle. The new needle will be smaller than the one used to withdraw the medicine from the vial. Follow the steps below:

  1. Hold the syringe with the attached used needle pointing up. Be sure the needle is capped.
  2. Pull the syringe plunger back until a small air bubble is seen. 
  3. Open the new needle package. You may lay the syringe and used needle down to do this. 
  4. Twist off the old, recapped needle from the syringe. Do not lay the syringe down while the needle is off. 
  5. Take the new needle out of the package. Attach to the syringe and twist to make sure the needle is firmly in place. 
  6. Uncap the needle. Do not touch the needle. 
  7. While holding the syringe with the newly attached needle pointing up, push the plunger up until a tiny drop of medicine is seen on the needle tip. There should not be any air bubbles in the syringe after you push the plunger up. 
  8. Recap the needle until you are ready to give the medicine to your child. 
  9. Discard used needles in a sharps disposal container.


  • Gather all supplies before getting started.
  • Take care to prevent germs.
  • Be sure you know the dose of medicine and measure the correct dose carefully.
  • Follow steps for needle safety.

Reviewed: March 2022