Immunization protects you from disease.Get protected, get immunized.
You may be offered this vaccine if you have had an animal bite or if there is a risk of you being in contact with rabies disease.
This vaccine is given to employees who work with animals at risk for rabies (e.g., animal control, veterinary, animal lab and research, SPCA/Humane Society, wildlife employees). Talk to your workplace health and safety department or a public health nurse to find out if you can get the vaccine for free.
Volunteers who work with animals, travellers to rabies risk areas, and people who take part in recreational activities where there is a risk of rabies (e.g., spelunkers/cavers) may benefit from this vaccine, but it is not free. Check with your health insurance provider as some plans may cover the cost.
If you have been bitten by an animal or think you may have a risk of rabies, call Health Link at 811.
If you need rabies vaccine for work, contact the public health office in your area. (Exceptions: In Edmonton Zone, contact the Immunization Business Unit at 780-735-0100. In Calgary Zone, contact Calgary CDC at 403-955-6750.)
If you do not qualify for free vaccine, you need to pay for it and should contact a travel health clinic (e.g.,
AHS Travel Health Services ) or speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
It is very important that rabies vaccine doses are given on time—get your doses exactly as recommended by your healthcare provider.
If you need the vaccine because you are working with animals or are travelling, you will need 3 doses given over 3 to 4 weeks. Some people need a blood test after finishing the series to see if they are protected. You may need to get another dose if the blood test shows you are not protected. People working with animals need ongoing blood tests to be sure they are protected. Check with your healthcare provider.
If you have had an animal bite or may have been exposed to rabies and the healthcare provider says you need rabies vaccine, you will get:
After the recommended doses of vaccine, almost 100% of people are protected.
There have been no cases of rabies in Canada after rabies vaccine and RIG were given as recommended. In other countries, there have been cases when rabies vaccine and RIG doses were not given exactly as recommended.
Reactions to the vaccine are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:
It is important to stay for 15 minutes after immunization because people can have a rare but serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If anaphylaxis happens, you will be given medicine to treat the symptoms.
Unusual reactions can happen. Call Health Link at 811 to report any unusual reactions.
Talk to your healthcare provider before having rabies vaccine if you:
You can be immunized if you have a mild illness (e.g., cold), even if you have a fever.
People who have close contact with animals and lab workers who handle the rabies virus are at higher risk for exposure to the virus.
For those who travel, the risk depends on the country, length of the trip, the activities, and access to medical care.
Children are at higher risk because they are more likely to approach animals and might not tell someone if they do get a bite or scratch. They are also more likely to have higher risk animal bites (e.g., more serious bites, bites on the face).
Current as of: July 16, 2019
Author: Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
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