Preventive rabies vaccination

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

See also the general information about rabies.

The rabies vaccine is safe and effective.

The preventive vaccination does not offer complete protection but creates an immunological memory. This ensures that protective antibodies are quickly produced after revaccination.

Vaccination scheme

  • The preventive schedule consists of 2 doses with a minimum interval of 7 days.
  • The vaccin can be administered intramuscular or intradermal. An intradermal dose consists of 2 mini-doses in the forarm. Both ways of administration are interchangeable
  • Three doses are required in the case of immune suppression: on day 0, 7 and 28.
  • Revaccination is normally not necessary, but it is necessary in case of possible exposure to rabies.
  • Specific guidelines apply for people who face an occupational risk, such as veterinarians, military staff and bat volunteers.

Duration of protection

After two doses the immunological memory is lifelong. In case of possible exposure to rabies, revaccination should be started as soon as possible, but the administration of antibodies (MARIG or HRIG) is never necessary, except in case of immunosuppression.

When is preventive rabies vaccination recommended?

  • In case of occupational risk (veterinarian, biologist, lab technician or on a military mission).
  • For volunteers or students who come into contact with animals that may be infected with rabies, for example bats.
  • When travelling to a country where rabies occurs in dogs (map), and the following risk factors:
    • Long or frequent stay.
    • Staying in remote areas where medical help is not readily available.
    • Risky activities (for example cycling, jogging or visiting a monkey park).
    • Children and adolescents.

Additional information for doctors

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