Preventive Vaccination (Preexposure Prophylaxis) for Rabies
A preventive vaccine for
rabies is given in three shots over 21 days.
Preexposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for postexposure
treatment, but postexposure treatment is simpler and shorter for those who have
received a vaccine before exposure to rabies.
Booster shots should
be considered when an occupation or hobby involves continued exposure to the
virus. But the risk of
allergic reaction to the vaccine increases with each
dose, so a booster shot should be given only when the antibody level from the
previous vaccine drops below an acceptable level. This is determined by a lab
test that measures the level of rabies antibodies in the system. The test is
performed every 6 months to 2 years, depending on risk.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.