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.
When you start planning your trip to India and sit down to make a to-do list, put "call doctor for vaccine appointment" at the top of the list. Then don't put it off.
According to the CDC, you need to start your immunizations at least four to six weeks before you plan to leave. That way the vaccines will have time to become effective. And you'll also be able to start taking preventive medicines for diseases that don't have vaccines, such as malaria.
Here's an overview of the vaccines you may need...