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The Best Way to Give a B12 Shot

By Meredith O'Malley

Vitamin B12, referred to as cobalamin, is an essential water-soluble vitamin crucial for cell reproduction, maintaining healthy nerve and red blood cells, and making DNA. Your physician may prescribe vitamin B12 shots if you are a strict vegetarian or have certain medical conditions including pernicious anemia. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin B12 injections are typically administered intramuscularly. You can self-inject vitamin B12 at home. Proper procedure and sterilization techniques are required to ensure adequate administration and reduce the risk of injury or infection.


  1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water counting to 15 seconds. Completely dry hands on a clean towel.

  2. Check to see if you received the accurate medication and dosage. Ensure that the medication did not expire. Clean the top of the bottle with alcohol and dry thoroughly.

  3. Remove sterile coverings to the syringe and pull the cap straight off. If you receive a separate syringe and needle, attach the needle to the syringe. Do not touch the needle.

  4. Fill the syringe with air by pulling back on the plunger until you reach the prescribed amount of medication. Ensure no air bubbles are present.

  5. Remove any cap from the B12. Inject the needle of air into the center space on top of the rubber stopper of the bottle, making it easier to fill the syringe.

  6. Turn the bottle over with the syringe inside. Carefully pull the plunger down below the line of the desired amount of medication watching for air bubbles. If air bubbles are present, gently tap the syringe with your finger and push to slowly release any air. Pull the plunger back to obtain the exact dose. If no air bubbles are present, move the plunger up to the exact line of your prescribed dosage. The top of the rubber plunger will line up with the amount of medication. Remove and cap the syringe.


  1. Identify the large muscle of the thigh, the vastus lateralis, which is the midpoint between your hip and knee. This muscle runs along the front and slightly to the side of your thigh. Locate the injection site by placing your thumb in the center of the front of your thigh with your fingers along the side.

  2. Clean the injection site with alcohol in a circular motion allowing it to dry before beginning the procedure.

  3. Grasp the muscle between your thumb and fingers allowing for the medication to be delivered into the deepest portion of the muscle. Position the needle as you would a pencil. Just as you would throw a dart, insert the needle in a 90-degree angle completely into the skin. Use one fast motion to minimize pain.

  4. Pull the plunger back to check for the presence of blood. If blood is present, remove the needle from the muscle and begin again with sterile supplies and a new dose of vitamin B12.

  5. Push the medication into the muscle slowly until the complete dose is injected. Apply gentle pressure with a sterile cloth.

  6. Discard used needle and syringe into a plastic container with a screw top lid, a metal coffee can, or a puncture proof sharps container. Follow proper garbage procedure for discarding the container or bring it to your pharmacist for disposal.

  7. Tip

    To further minimize pain, inject medication that is room temperature, relax the muscle and never alter the direction of the needle going in or out.

    You can purchase sharps containers at your local pharmacy if needed.

    While the thigh muscle is a visible area making it a common injection site, you can also inject the buttocks, hip muscle, or the upper outer part of the arm.


    Never reuse disposable needles.

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