About the rabies vaccine
The rabies vaccine for humans is available to people who live in places or have jobs that place them at higher risk of coming in contact with rabies, such as veterinarians. It’s also available and administered to people after a bite from an animal that could potentially have rabies.
The rabies vaccine for humans is both safe and effective. It’s used to prevent rabies before exposure to the virus, and also to combat the virus after exposure to it. A full course of the vaccine provides long-lasting immunity. The rabies vaccine is usually given by injection into the skin or muscle, and if you’ve been exposed, the vaccination is typically given along with rabies immunoglobulin.
The CDC recommends that people who are at high risk of exposure to rabies be vaccinated before potential exposure to it.
Where to get the rabies vaccine
The rabies vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that can be given to almost everyone and can help prevent the transmission of rabies if you come in contact with a rabid animal.
Pharmaca’s pharmacists are some of the best in their field, and focus on individual counsel and care for each patient. We’ve worked with some of the medical industry’s top professionals to provide the best and safest immunization services across the country.
If you need a rabies vaccine, contact your local Pharmaca pharmacy to schedule an appointment.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease in mammals that’s spread by the bite of a rabid animal. Most rabies cases reported to the CDC occur from the bites of wild animals. Rabies in humans can occur from the bite of an infected animal and is a serious disease.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and, if left untreated, death.
How is rabies transmitted?
Rabies is transmitted to humans through the saliva of infected animals.
Rabies is only carried in mammals, and according to the CDC, the cause of rabies in humans is mostly from animals such as bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks. In certain countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, stray dogs are often the most likely culprit to spread rabies to people.
There are rare cases where rabies transmission can happen when infected saliva gets into an open wound or the mucous membranes, such as the mouth or eyes. This can happen if an animal with rabies were to lick an open cut or wound on the skin.
The early rabies symptoms in humans are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms of rabies appear and get more severe the longer the virus is left to spread. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
The early symptoms of rabies in humans may be very similar to the flu and may last for days. Later signs and symptoms may include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive salivation
- Fear of water (hydrophobia) because of the difficulty in swallowing
- Partial paralysis
Rabies treatment for humans
You should seek immediate medical attention if you’re bitten by any animal, or if you’ve been exposed to an animal that might have rabies. A medical professional can then decide whether you should receive treatment to prevent rabies.
Although rabies is incurable after a certain amount of time, there is a human rabies vaccine available to prevent someone from contracting rabies altogether. This rabies shot is made from rabies virus that is no longer alive, and as such cannot cause rabies.
The rabies vaccine for humans is recommended for those with a higher risk of coming in contact with rabies. For example, a rabies vaccine might be needed for:
- Veterinarians or animal handlers
- People who study or explore caves
- People who study the rabies virus itself
- Travelers to countries where rabies is common
The rabies vaccination is given in three doses. The second dose is given 7 days after the first dose, followed by a third dose 21 or 28 days after the first.
Rabies vaccine side effects
As with any medicine, there’s a very small chance that the rabies vaccine can cause a side reaction. But getting a rabies vaccine is much safer than getting rabies itself.
Side effects of the rabies vaccine are usually mild and go away in a few days. They can include:
- Pain, swelling or redness where the shot was given
- Upset stomach
- Stomach pain
- Muscles aches
Less common side effects of the rabies vaccine include:
- Hives (itchy spots on the skin)
- Joint pain
Serious side effects from the rabies vaccine are very rare.