Chachati Travel Health

Rabies Vaccine: Human Pre-exposure Schedules

Rabies vaccine Pre-exposure schedule

Hello and welcome back to Travel Health Central! I’m Virginia, I’m a Travel Health Pharmacist and I really want to help you learn more about how to be healthy while you travel.

If you’re travelling to a country where there is rabies especially where there are stray dogs, cats, monkeys or bats, you might need a course of rabies vaccines. In this video I will go through the three types of rabies vaccinations courses that you can get. These are needed if you’ve never had any rabies vaccines. They are also known as pre-exposure vaccines. Each vaccine is exactly the same. So even if you need a booster in future it will be the exact same vaccine that you get.

The vaccine is an injection and it’s given to you in your deltoid muscle here in your upper arm. The reason that it’s given there is because it’s very accessible and you have some lymph nodes under your arm right here where your immune system white cells like to live. So you’ll have a good quick response to the vaccine. Just so you know it is an inactive vaccine. We are not injecting you with live rabies virus! You are getting a dead version of the virus which is safer than giving you an active version of the virus. Because the vaccine is inactive it means you will need boosters in future in order to keep up your immunity to rabies.

When people say the rabies vaccine only gives you 48 hours of protection, that’s a complete myth. It will actually give you one year and upto ten years of protection before you need a booster. But it depends on how often you are travelling and what your exposure risk to rabies is.

Of course whenever you get vaccinated you will get a leaflet which has all of the side effects written inside. I’ve had this vaccination course and I’ve given it to many people. The worst i’ve had from it is feeling a bit tired and having a bit of a sore arm afterwards.

The first vaccine schedule is you will have your first vaccine on day zero, and your second vaccine on day seven and your third vaccine on day twenty eight. This is the preferred vaccination schedule because the doses are the most spread out and it also means that you will retain that immunity a bit better because you’re giving yourself mini breaks in between the doses so that your immune system can have a good response to the vaccine and make those memory cells.

It might be a bit confusing that we start with day zero but the reason we do that is because we start counting the day after you’ve been injected. So for example if you got injected on a Monday that would be your day Zero and seven days after Monday would be the following week Monday.

The second vaccination schedule is very similar. You get your first injection on day zero. You get your second injection on day seven. And you get your third injection on day twenty one. This is normally advised for people who are in a bit of a rush to get their injections before they travel.

The third schedule is for people who have really left it to the absolute last minute. So you can complete the third schedule within a week. You get your first injection on day zero, you get your second one on day three and you get your third one on day seven. However, you will definitely need to have a booster dose in one year’s time – so that would be day Three Hundred and Sixty five.

The reason why we have these “days” on the schedules are because we want to make sure your immune system has enough time to have a good immune response. So if you can’t make it exactly on day seven for example and you CAN make it on day eight – it just means the schedule shifts by one whole day so your new schedule would be for example: Day zero, day eight and then day twenty two. And that just means we’ve got all the vaccines in to make sure that you’re nice and protected just in case you get bitten by a rabid animal like a dog, a cat, a bat or a fox.

Make sure that you’re well on the day before you get your vaccination. And that’s so that you can have a good immune response.  If you’re already recovering from an infection or you’re on a course of antibiotics or you’re generally feeling a little bit under the weather  then you might not be able to have the vaccination that day. So there’s no problem with delaying the vaccine or scheduling it for another time.

After you’ve been vaccinated make sure you don’t lift anything heavy. And make sure you try not to sleep on that arm. Because these kinds of things delay the recovery process especially because you’ve practically injured your deltoid muscle with the needle. It takes time for that hole to close up and you don’t want to delay it any longer than you need to. It just means you’re going to be sore for a bit longer than you have to be.

Also before you get vaccinated make sure that you’ve eaten well and you’ve had plenty of good sleep. Sleep is great for your immune system. Also food is required to make those all important memory cells.

Just before you go, my top tip for you is to make sure you are as relaxed as possible before you get vaccinated. That means you should try and relax your muscles, don’t be so tense because then you are less likely to feel the needle – especially if you are getting multiple vaccinations – you don’t want to be tense in any way and you really want to trust the person that’s vaccinating you.

I really hope this video was helpful for you and when you’re planning your holidays I really hope you Have a Happy Healthy Holiday! Bye!

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