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Rabies virus vaccine

Generic Name: rabies virus vaccine (RAY-beez)
Brand Name: Examples include Imovax and RabAvert

Rabies virus vaccine is used for:

Preventing rabies before and after exposure.

Rabies virus vaccine is a vaccine. It works by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies against the rabies virus.

Do NOT use rabies virus vaccine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in rabies virus vaccine

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using rabies virus vaccine:

Some medical conditions may interact with rabies virus vaccine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances, including egg proteins or egg products, neomycin, chlortetracycline, or amphotericin B
  • if you have had an allergic reaction to a rabies vaccine in the past
  • if you have a fever, cold, or other infection or recent illness
  • if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are receiving radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • if you have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome or other nervous system problems

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with rabies virus vaccine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Antimalaria medicines (eg, atovaquone, hydroxychloroquine) or medicines that suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids (eg, prednisone) or cancer chemotherapy (eg, methotrexate) because they may decrease rabies virus vaccine's effectiveness. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your medicines may suppress the immune system

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if rabies virus vaccine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use rabies virus vaccine:

Use rabies virus vaccine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Rabies virus vaccine is usually administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist any questions that you may have about rabies virus vaccine.
  • You may need more than 1 injection for full protection. It is important that you complete the vaccination series.
  • Do not use rabies virus vaccine if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial or syringe is cracked or damaged.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and away from pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Dispose of properly after use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain local regulations for proper disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of rabies virus vaccine, contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use rabies virus vaccine.

Important safety information:

  • Rabies virus vaccine may cause dizziness. Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to rabies virus vaccine.
  • Rabies virus vaccine may not work as well in patients who have immune system problems or are taking medicine that suppresses the immune system, such as corticosteroids (eg, prednisone). Tell your doctor if you have any immune system problems or other illnesses.
  • Rabies virus vaccine contains albumin, which comes from human blood. There is a very rare risk of getting a viral disease or a central nervous system disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from products with albumin. No cases of these problems have been found in patients who have used rabies virus vaccine.
  • This vaccine may not protect everyone who receives it. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Make sure your doctor knows your current health status and if you have had an allergic reaction to a rabies vaccine in the past.
  • Keep all doctor and lab appointments while using rabies virus vaccine.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is not known if rabies virus vaccine can cause harm to the fetus. If you are pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using rabies virus vaccine during pregnancy. It is unknown if rabies virus vaccine is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you are using rabies virus vaccine, check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of rabies virus vaccine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Dizziness; headache; mild pain, redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site; muscle or joint aches or pain; nausea; stomach pain; tiredness; vomiting; weakness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing or swallowing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); burning, numbness, or tingling; decreased movement of the face muscles; fever or chills; irregular heartbeat; muscle weakness; seizures; severe or persistent bruising, pain, or swelling at the injection site; severe or persistent headache; shortness of breath; stiff neck; swelling of the arms or legs; swollen lymph nodes; vision changes; wheezing.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of rabies virus vaccine:

Rabies virus vaccine is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. Keep rabies virus vaccine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about rabies virus vaccine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Rabies virus vaccine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take rabies virus vaccine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about rabies virus vaccine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to rabies virus vaccine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using rabies virus vaccine.

Issue Date: June 3, 2015

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.