Vancomycin for pneumonia


Generic Name Brand Name
vancomycin Vancocin

How It Works

Vancomycin kills bacteria by preventing them from reproducing. It is given through a vein (intravenously, or IV).

Why It Is Used

Doctors use vancomycin to treat people who are in the hospital for severe infections that do not respond to other antibiotics. Infections may include those of the blood or bone; lower respiratory tract, such as pneumonia or complications of flu; and endocarditis.

How Well It Works

In general, all antibiotics used have a high cure rate for pneumonia caused by bacteria. Cure rates are greater than 80%, meaning at least 80 people out of 100 are cured.1

Vancomycin is effective against some types of bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics.

Side Effects

Side effects of vancomycin may include:

  • Nausea.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Hearing loss. This is rare, but it has occurred in people who received excessive doses, were taking another medicine that may cause hearing loss, or who already had some hearing loss. Hearing loss has also occurred in people with kidney disease.
  • Kidney damage, especially in people who already have kidney problems.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Doctors are careful about the use of vancomycin because it is the only antibiotic that can kill some types of bacteria. Using vancomycin too often can lead to antibiotic resistance in these bacteria.

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  1. Loeb M (2008). Community-acquired pneumonia, search date June 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence:

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