Immune Globulin for Post Exposure Protection Against Measles
Updated February 2019
Immune globulin (Ig) is made from donated human blood plasma that contains antibodies to protect against infections including measles. Immune globulin can provide immediate, short-term protection when given within six days after exposure to measles. It can prevent infection or make the illness less severe.
Immune globulin is generally given to persons who are unable to receive the vaccine, and/or individuals at higher risk of complications from measles such as infants, pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems.
For individuals who meet the criteria, the dosage is 0.5 ml/kg, to a maximum of 15 ml. Immune globulin is given by injection into the muscle.
Persons weighing more than 30 kg should consider intravenous (IV) immune globulin, provided through a hospital. Intramuscular injection of Ig may not provide complete protection against measles for these individuals.
An individual who was exposed to measles in the last six days, is not immune to measles and is at risk for serious complications, and is not eligible for the MMR vaccine:
- infants less than six months old
- infants six months to a year old; more than three days since exposure, but still less than six days
- persons with weakened immune systems
- pregnant women
Side Effects and Risks
Immune globulin is usually well-tolerated. The most common side effects are redness, swelling and pain around the injection site(s) (may last for several hours). Mild fever or general discomfort may also occur. Less common are flushing, headache, chills and nausea. A potential risk of blood clots has been seen, especially when Ig is given in large doses.
Risk of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is very rare. Seek immediate medical attention if you have hives, difficulty breathing or swelling around the mouth or throat. Report serious or unexpected reactions to your doctor or call Toronto Public Health at 416-392-1250.
People Who Should Not Get Immune Globulin
Not for individuals with:
- a severe allergic reaction to immune globulin
- a very low platelet count or other blood clotting disorder
- a condition called isolated immunoglobulin A deficiency (IgA)
Persons who have received intravenous immune globulin in the past three weeks are considered protected against measles and do not need Ig.
- Delay immune globulin if you have fever or illness more serious than a cold.
- Postpone getting live vaccines for six months. Ig can interfere with the immune response to live vaccines (e.g. MMR, chickenpox).
- If you received a live vaccine in the past two weeks, you may need to repeat vaccination six months after you received immune globulin.
Immune globulin does not provide long term protection again measles. Talk to your health care provider to talk about vaccination. Use of immune globulin may still lead to the measles infection. Watch for signs and symptoms for measles. Seek medical care if you are sick.
Measles is very contagious. The virus is easily spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms include fever, rash, cough, red eyes and a runny nose. The red rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Complications from measles include ear infections, pneumonia, miscarriage, an infection of the brain causing brain damage, and death.
For More Information
- talk to your doctor/health care provider
- call our Immunization Information Line at 416-392-1250