The rabies vaccine prevents against rabies, a widespread disease that can be fatal. It is caused by the bite or scratch of an infected animal. Rabies vaccine side effects are mild, and include fever, headache and muscle aches. The rabies vaccine provides protection that lasts a lifetime.
The rabies vaccine lasts a lifetime for most people, if they receive a full course.
If you need the vaccine, you should begin your rabies vaccine course a minimum of three weeks before travel.
This is because you will require three doses, with a minimum of seven days in between the first and second dose, and a minimum of 14 days between the second and third, before you are fully protected.
After this, you will not require any booster doses of the rabies jab unless you have a high risk of becoming infected.
After having the rabies vaccine, some people experience mild rabies vaccine side effects.
These usually get better after one to two days, and are much less severe than symptoms of the rabies disease, if you were to become infected.
Up to 85% of people suffer from temporary soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site. If you experience this, the soreness will not last long and is normal.
Other rabies vaccine side effects can include:
If you do experience dizziness as a rabies vaccine side effect, you should not drive or operate machinery until you feel well.
If you are worried about any of the rabies vaccine side effects, or they have lasted for longer than a few days, you should speak to your doctor for advice.
In general, people travelling to a risk area are recommended to get the rabies vaccine. Check if there is a current risk of rabies in the country you are travelling to.
The vaccine is especially recommended to people at higher risk of becoming infected with rabies. This includes people who are:
travelling for a month or more in risk areas
travelling in an area with limited access to good medical care
planning outdoor activities, such as cycling, hiking or camping
visiting rural areas
working or volunteering with animals
However, while most people can have the rabies vaccine, it can cause problems for people who are allergic to any of the ingredients of the vaccine and people who are currently unwell with a fever.
Moreover, it can also cause problems for pregnant or breastfeeding women, and women who are planning to have a baby.
If you belong to any of these groups or you are unsure whether you should get the rabies injection, you can book a free telephone consultation with one of our prescribing nurses for a personal assessment.
If you may be at risk of rabies, it is recommended that you check whether you need the vaccine, as the disease can be fatal. For the cost of the rabies vaccine, see below.
Anne Marie Major, Independent Nurse Prescriber
June 25, 2019