Skip to content

Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

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.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Current as of August 27, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

passport, pills and vaccine
25 ways to protect yourself from illness.
syringes and graph illustration
Create a personalized schedule.
flu shot signage
Get answers to your questions
gloved hand holding syringe
Which ones do you need?
woman walking
Vaccine Schedule Are Your Childs Shots Up To Date
69x75 thumbnail early pregnancy 02
gloved hand holding syringe
adult vaccine injection
woman peeking under sheets
cold season and vitamin C
Adult Meningitis Vaccines What You Should Know