RSV Passive Immunisation For High Risk Babies

RSV Passive Immunisation For High Risk Babies


What is palivizumab (Synagis)?

Palivizumab is used to prevent serious illness caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in high-risk babies.  

Find out about RSV

The antibodies in palivizumab can help protect high-risk babies from serious infection. They do this by providing short lasting passive immunisation aganist RSV. 

Palivizumab is given as an injection into the muscle in the thigh by a healthcare professional. 

The level of antibodies gradually falls after each injection. Babies who have palivizumab need an injection each month in winter/spring for continued protection. 

If your paediatrician advises that your baby needs palivizumab, you'll get instructions about how to get monthly doses.

Is palivizumab a vaccine?

No, palivizumab is not a vaccine. It does not stimulate your baby's body to produce its own antibodies when they come into contact with that virus in the future.

How is palivizumab given?

Palivizumab is given as an injection into the muscle in the thigh by a healthcare professional. 

Can my baby have palivizumab at the same time as other immunisations?

Yes - they might have any other injections at a different area of the body. 

Are there any side effects or complications from the injections?

The most common reactions are:

  • redness or swelling in the area where your baby had the injection
  • fever
  • runny poos
  • being more unsettled

These symptoms are usually quite minor and will settle within 24 to 48 hours.

Extremely rarely, babies can develop an allergic response to palivizumab. Symptoms of this might include swelling of their face or body, breathing difficulties or rashes anywhere on their body. If this happens, please call 111 in New Zealand. 

This page last reviewed 02 June 2022.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it