Health Guide

Rabies vaccine (By injection)

Rabies Vaccine (RAY-beez VAX-een)

Prevents infection caused by rabies virus. The vaccine can be given before or after you are exposed to the rabies virus.

Brand Name(s):

Imovax Rabies, RabAvert

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not receive a rabies vaccine if you have had an allergic reaction to it before.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot into one of your muscles. The vaccine is injected into the upper arm muscle. Very young or small children may have the vaccine injected into the upper leg muscle.
  • A nurse or other health provider will give you this medicine.
  • You are at risk for exposure to the rabies virus if you work with animals or will be going to a country where rabies is common. People who are at risk of being exposed to rabies will receive 3 doses on 3 different days within a 1-month period.
  • If you have received the vaccine in the past and have been exposed to the rabies virus, you will need to receive 2 doses on 2 different days within a 1-month period.
  • If you have not yet received the vaccine and were exposed to the rabies virus, you will need a total of 5 doses on 5 different days within a 1-month period. You will also receive a shot of rabies immune globulin.
  • It is very important that you have the shots on the exact day your doctor tells you to.

If a dose is missed:

  • You must use this medicine on a fixed schedule. Call your doctor or pharmacist if you miss a dose.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Tell your doctor before you receive this vaccine if you take medicine that weakens your immune system, such as a steroid (such as dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, prednisone, Medrol®) or cancer treatment.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to any type of vaccine, if you have an illness with fever, or if you have an immune system problem.
  • This medicine is made from donated human blood. Some human blood products have transmitted viruses to people who have received them, although the risk is low. Human donors and donated blood are both tested for viruses to keep the transmission risk low. Talk with your médico about this risk if you are concerned.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Muscle pain, stiffness, or weakness
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Dizziness, headache
  • Fever
  • Itching, pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Nausea, stomach pain
  • Tiredness

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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