Penicillin Injections After Rheumatic Fever

Penicillin Injections After Rheumatic Fever

The best way to prevent your child from getting rheumatic fever again is for them to have regular penicillin injections.


Key points about penicillin injections after rheumatic fever

  • regular penicillin injections kill the strep bacteria that cause rheumatic fever, stopping further damage to the heart
  • you usually have penicillin injections every 28 days
  • most tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) need to have penicillin injections for at least 10 years or until they are 21 years old 
  • it's important that your child doesn't miss any penicillin injections as they could get strep throat again 
  • the penicillin injections can be uncomfortable
  • your child should never stop having their penicillin injections before talking with the doctor first

Why does my child need penicillin injections after they've had rheumatic fever? 

Penicillin injections protect your child from strep bacteria. This is important at the time in their life when they are in close contact with lots of people who could have a strep infection. Strep bacteria can lead to rheumatic fever. It's important to protect your child from getting rheumatic fever again, as this can cause further damage to the heart.

How often will my child need penicillin injections?

One injection gives your child enough penicillin to fight the strep bacteria for up to 28 days. Having an injection every 28 days means that there is enough penicillin in your child's body to help stop them from getting rheumatic fever again.

Your child will need to keep having regular penicillin injections for 10 years or until they are 21 years old, whichever is longer. Some tamariki may need to continue penicillin injections for longer if they have severe heart valve damage.

Can my child miss an injection?

It's very important that your child doesn't miss a penicillin injection. Missing one means that your child could get strep throat which can trigger rheumatic fever again.

If you forget an injection, ring your child's nurse to arrange to get your child's next injection as soon as possible.

Find out about an app to help get your bicillin on time every time

What if we are going to be away when a penicillin injection is due?

Remember to tell your nurse if you are moving house, going overseas, on holiday, or going away. If you are going to be away when your child's injection is due, talk to your nurse beforehand. You can arrange for your child to have the injection early. Or, your nurse may be able to arrange for your child to get their injections elsewhere.

What if my child gets a sore throat while they are having penicillin injections?

Take your child to your doctor and get a throat swab if they have a sore throat. Your child will need an extra course of antibiotics to increase their protection.

Will the injections cause my child to gain weight? 

No. The injection won't cause your child to gain weight.

How can I support my child during their injection?

Take a few deep breaths and relax yourself. If you're feeling nervous and upset, then your child will find the experience more difficult.

Supporting your child for the first few injections can help them feel more confident. 

You may like to think about saying encouraging things like:

  • "try counting to 10"
  • “you can do it"
  • "let’s look at this game" 

This is more helpful for most tamariki than saying things that make them focus on the injection. 

If they are saying it is sore, you can acknowledge their feelings by telling them they are doing a good job and they are trying really hard.

This page last reviewed 10 May 2020.

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