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Syringe Access and Safe Sharps Disposal

Where to Purchase Sterile Syringes Without a Prescription

Pharmacies may sell new, sterile hypodermic needles and syringes to individuals, without a prescription, in order to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and hepatitis C.

Who may purchase? Adults, 18 years or older.

How many? Unlimited. A free sharps container is available at the time of purchase for safe disposal of used needles.

How to Store Sharps

Sharps must be properly stored and then discarded after use, so we can:

  • Prevent re-use of sharps and sharing of needles that can transmit infectious diseases
  • Keep sharps out of household trash and recycling bins
  • Protect children, pets, and sanitation workers from needle-stick injuries

Do:

  • Use only a red approved sharps storage container.
  • Immediately put used sharps into your container, needle first. Keep container closed between uses.
  • Keep sharps containers away from children and pets.

Don't:

  • Don't ever share a used needle or syringe.
  • Don't flush sharps down the toilet or drop them into a storm sewer.
  • Don't clip, bend, or recap sharps.
  • Don't throw a sharps container in the garbage or recycling.
  • Don't put sharps in soda cans, milk cartons, glass bottles, or in any containers that are not puncture resistant. Coffee cans are not recommended because the plastic lids come off easily and may leak.

How to Dispose of Sharps

Protect the environment; it's as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Use a sharps container supplied with your syringe purchase, or purchase a container at your local pharmacy.
  2. Place used sharps in the container and store in a safe place.
  3. Bring full, closed containers to a participating pharmacy, needle exchange or household toxic collection event for free disposal.

Where to Dispose of Sharps

It's illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps in the garbage.

Household Toxics Facility - Central Disposal Site: 500 Mecham Road, near Cotati, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. No fee for Sonoma County residents; bring proof of residency. Check https://zerowastesonoma.gov/ for more information.

Community Toxics Collection: Tuesdays 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at different locations. Call toll-free at (877) 747-1870, M-F from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Appointment required. No fee for Sonoma County residents; bring proof of residency. Check https://zerowastesonoma.gov/ for more information.

Eco-Desk Hotline at (707) 565-DESK (3375).

Sonoma County Hepatitis AIDS Risk Reduction Project (SHARP) exchanges sterile syringes for used/contaminated ones, (needle exchange program). Call (707) 544-3295 x342 or (707) 481-9827 for location and times.

For more information on the safe disposal of sharps, and drop-off locations, visit https://zerowastesonoma.gov/

Or

Ask your diabetes educator or local American Diabetes Association Chapter.

Background

On January 1, 2005, Senate Bill 1159 was signed into law. This legislation is designed to prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases among injection drug users (IDUs), public safety workers and the general public.

On September 27, 2005, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors authorized the Department of Health Services (SCDHS) to implement a local Disease Prevention Demonstration Project, allowing pharmacies to furnish or sell hypodermic needles and syringes without a prescription as permitted under State law (SB1159).

On September 15, 2014 Assembly Bill 1743 was signed into law and took effect January 1, 2015. This legislation allows pharmacies to sell an unlimited number of syringes without a prescription to adults 18 years of age or older for disease prevention purposes.

Pharmacies may choose whether or not to offer the Nonprescription sale of syringes. If they do, the pharmacy must also sell or provide consumers a household sharps container. Pharmacies must store hypodermic needles and syringes so that they are available only to authorized personnel. Individuals may bring the used syringes back to the pharmacy in the approved sharps container. A licensed medical waste hauler collects the containers regularly from the pharmacy for disposal out of county. This project allows adults access to clean syringes and provides a method for safe disposal of syringes.

It is now unlawful to discard or dispose of a hypodermic needle or syringe upon the grounds of a playground, beach, park, or any public or private elementary, vocational, junior high, or high school.

Pharmacies can provide the purchaser with written information or verbal counseling on all of the following: how to access drug treatment; how to access testing and treatment for HIV and hepatitis C; and how to safely dispose of sharps waste.

The sale, possession, or use of illegal drugs is still a crime and puts you at risk of arrest and criminal prosecution.

Contact Information

Marty Isom

Environmental Health Specialist III

Health Services

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