Ceftriaxone is an antibiotic used to treat different infections caused by bacteria. Find out how it is given and possible side effects. Ceftriaxone is commonly called Rocephin.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Antibiotic
  • Belongs to a group of antibiotics known as cephalosporins
  • Rocephin®
  • Ceftriaxone-AFT®
  • Ceftriaxone (Deva) ®
  • Veracol®

What is ceftriaxone?

Ceftriaxone is an antibiotic that is given by injection to treat different infections caused by bacteria. It works by killing or stopping the growth of bacteria (bugs) and gets rid of the infection. Like all antibiotics, ceftriaxone is not effective against infections caused by viruses. Ceftriaxone may also be given around the time of surgical operations to help prevent infection happening afterwards. Ceftriaxone injection can be given in your vein or muscle.


  • The dose of ceftriaxone will be different for different people depending on the type of infection, how bad your infection is and the type of bacteria causing the infection.
  • Your doctor will also decide how long you need to have ceftriaxone injections for.
  • For some infections, a single injection is adequate while other infections may need repeated injections for a few days.  

How is ceftriaxone given?

  • A doctor or a nurse will usually give you this medicine.
  • Ceftriaxone may be injected into your vein, as a slow injection over 2 to 4 minutes or by a continuous infusion over a longer time. Your doctor or nurse may call this an “IV” or “intravenous infusion” or “drip”.
  • Sometimes, your doctor or nurse will give you ceftriaxone by injecting it into the large muscles in your leg or bottom. This is called an intramuscular injection. You may also receive a local anaesthetic in this case.
  • If you are giving ceftriaxone to yourself at home, it may already be prepared by the Hospital Pharmacy or will be prepared by a District Nurse. The injection is either contained in a bag and is designed to drip slowly into your catheter (this is called an infusion) or injected slowly with a syringe. This should be administered exactly as you have been instructed at the hospital or clinic. The infusion should be given over at least 30 minutes. The syringe should be given over 2 to 4 minutes.

Possible side effects 

Like all medicines, ceftriaxone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Pain, redness, swelling or soreness at the injection site 
  • Feeling sick, (nausea)
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Tiredness, yellow skin or eyes, stomach pain
  • Tell your doctor or ring HealthLine 
    0800 611 116
  • Diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • Headache
  • This should settle after a few days
  • Tell your doctor if ongoing and troublesome
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, itching, swelling of the lips, face, and mouth or difficulty breathing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 
    0800 611 116
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product


  1. Ceftriaxone New Zealand Formulary

Additional resources for healthcare professionals

Ceftriaxone–AFT Medsafe, NZ
Check INR after starting roxithromycin for patients on warfarin Medsafe, NZ, 2015
Antibiotics – choices for common infections BPAC, NZ, 2017

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 15 Jan 2019