ALL
Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Immune Globulin (IG)
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Immunization

Immune Globulin (IG)

​​​​​

​​​​​​​Immunization protects you from disease.
​​Get protected, get immunized.

  • Immune Globulins are needed for fast but short term protection.
  • For long term protection, get immunized.​

What is Immune Globulin (IG)?

IG is made from blood and contains antibodies.

IG gives fast protection against measles or hepatitis A, but it is not long lasting. For long lasting protection, immunization with a measles or hepatitis A containing vaccine is needed.

Who should have IG?

IG is given after contact with the measles virus to unprotected people who are at risk for serious illness (e.g., weak immune system, pregnant woman, baby under 1 year of age).

IG is given after contact with the hepatitis A virus to unprotected people who are at risk for serious illness (e.g., liver disease, weak immune system, baby under 6 months of age). IG must be given within a certain time after contact with the virus.

How many doses of IG are needed?

People need 1 dose of IG as soon as possible after contact with the virus. The size of the dose depends on the person’s body weight.

How well does IG work?

For people who have been in contact with hepatitis A or measles virus, IG helps prevent the disease or helps prevent serious illness in those who do get disease.

Is IG safe?

IG is one of the safest blood products available. Canadian Blood Services carefully screens donors and tests all blood collected. The blood of donors is not used if the donor has known risk factors or tests positive for an infectious diseases. IG is treated with heat and chemicals to kill germs that might be present. The risk of getting an infection from IG is very small.

Where can I get IG?

If you think you have been in contact with hepatitis A or measles, call Health Link at 811 to discuss.

If IG is needed, it will be given at your local public health office.

Are there side effects from IG?

Reactions to IG are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:

  • discomfort where the needle was given

Hives and general swelling may occur.

It is important to stay for 15 minutes after IG is given because people can have a rare but serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If anaphylaxis happens, you will be given medicine to treat the symptoms.

Unusual reactions can happen. Call Health Link at 811 to report any unusual reactions.

How can I manage side effects?

  • To help with discomfort and swelling, put a cool, wet cloth over the area.
  • If you need fever or pain medicine, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 19 years old because it can cause serious health problems.
  • Some people with health problems (e.g., weak immune system) must call their doctor whenever they get a fever. If you have been told to do this, call your doctor—even if you think the fever was due to immunization.

Is there anyone who cannot have IG?

Talk to your healthcare provider before having IG if you:

  • have an allergy to parts of the immune globulin—always tell your healthcare provider about allergies
  • had a severe or unusual reaction after this immune globulin (or a similar one)—always tell your healthcare provider if you have had reactions
  • have an IgA deficiency

You can have IG if you have a mild illness (e.g., cold), even if you have a fever.

IG can interfere with live vaccines. You need to wait for 3 to 6 months (depending on the dose you had) after having IG before you can have a live vaccine, including measles-containing vaccine. If you had a live vaccine less than 14 days before having IG, ask a public health nurse if the live vaccine needs to be repeated.

For More Information

Disease Quick Facts

Measles

  • highly infectious virus that causes a high fever, blotchy rash, cough, runny nose, and red eyes
  • 1 in 10 people will get infections of the middle ear or lungs
  • 1 in 1000 people will get encephalitis (infection of the brain) which can lead to seizures, deafness or brain damage
  • 1 to 2 of every 1000 people may die
  • spread easily through the air

Hepatitis A

  • a virus that causes poor appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • symptoms can be severe and last for months
  • 1 out of 4 adults need to be admitted to hospital
  • can lead to death in rare cases
  • People who already have liver problems, have a weak immune system, or are over 60 years of age are at highest risk for more serious illness if they get hepatitis A
  • Spread by infected stool getting onto hands or into food and water, and then into the mouth

Current as of: January 1, 2019

Author: Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services