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Vancomycin Injection

(van" koe mye' sin)

WHY is this medicine prescribed?

Vancomycin injection is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat certain serious infections such as endocarditis (infection of the heart lining and valves), peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdomen), and infections of the lungs, skin, blood, and bones. Vancomycin injection is in a class of medications called glycopeptide antibiotics. It works by killing bacteria that cause infections.

Antibiotics such as vancomycin injection will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections. Taking or using antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.

Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?

Vancomycin injection may also be given orally to treat colitis (inflammation of the intestine caused by certain bacteria) that may occur after antibiotic treatment.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

HOW should this medicine be used?

Vancomycin injection comes as a powder to be added to fluid and injected intravenously (into a vein). It is usually infused (injected slowly) over a period of at least 60 minutes once every 6 or 12 hours, but may be given every 8 hours in newborn babies. The length of your treatment depends on the type of infection you have.

You may experience a reaction while you receive a dose of vancomycin injection, usually during your infusion or soon after your infusion has completed. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms while you receive vancomycin injection: dizziness, wheezing, shortness of breath, itching, hives, flushing of the upper body, or muscle pain or spasm of the chest and back.

You may receive vancomycin injection in a hospital or you may use the medication at home. If you are using vancomycin injection at home, use it at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or other healthcare provider to explain any part you do not understand. Use vancomycin injection exactly as directed. Do not infuse it more quickly than directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

If you will be using vancomycin injection at home, your healthcare provider will show you how to infuse the medication. Be sure that you understand these directions, and ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions. Ask your healthcare provider what to do if you have any problems infusing vancomycin injection.

You should begin feeling better during the first few days of your treatment with vancomycin injection. If your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse, call your doctor.

Use vancomycin injection until you finish the prescription, even if you feel better. If you stop using vancomycin injection too soon or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.

What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

Before using vancomycin injection,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to vancomycin, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in vancomycin injection. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: amikacin, amphotericin (Abelcet, Ambisome, Amphotec), bacitracin (Baciim); cisplatin, colistin, kanamycin, neomycin (Neo-Fradin), paromomycin, polymyxin B, streptomycin, and tobramycin. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had hearing problems or kidney disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using vancomycin injection, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are receiving vancomycin injection.

What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?

Infuse the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not infuse a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

Vancomycin injection may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • fever
  • nausea
  • chills

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the HOW section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

  • severe diarrhea with watery or bloody stools (up to 2 months after your treatment)
  • stomach pain or cramps
  • rash
  • peeling or blistering of the skin
  • swelling of the eyes, face, throat, tongue, or lips
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • hoarseness
  • hearing loss, roaring or ringing in the ears, or dizziness

Vancomycin injection may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while receiving this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to vancomycin injection.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

Pronunciation Guide for Drug Names is used with permission. © 2009. The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. All Rights Reserved.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information™. © Copyright, 2020. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists®, 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Selected Revisions: April 15, 2016.