Rabies vaccination is a series of shots given over a period of 2 weeks after a possible exposure to rabies. Rabies vaccines contain inactivated virus particles that increase the body's immune response, which in turn helps destroy the rabies virus.
Three rabies vaccines have been approved for use in the United States; all are considered equally effective and equally safe. The vaccines are:
A rabies vaccine (HDCV, RVA, or PCEC) is given:
Local reactions, such as pain, itching, and swelling at the site of the shot, have been reported after vaccination with each of the three vaccines available in the U.S. Systemic reactions, such as headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and muscle aches, are less common.
Newer rabies vaccines used today are not as painful and do not require as many shots as the older vaccines.
Last Revised: August 27, 2012
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