Rabies vaccine is a vaccine used to prevent rabies. There are a number of vaccines available that are both safe and effective. They can be used to prevent rabies before and for a period of time after exposure to the virus such as by a dog or bat bite. The immunity that develops is long lasting after three doses. Doses are usually given by injection into the skin or muscle. After exposure vaccination is typically used along with rabies immunoglobulin. It is recommended that those who are at high risk of exposure be vaccinated before potential exposure. Vaccines are effective in humans and other animals. Vaccinating dogs is very effective in preventing the spread of rabies to humans.
Rabies vaccines may be safely used in all age groups. About 35 to 45 percent of people develop a brief period of redness and pain at the injection site. About 5 to 15 percent of people may have fever, headaches, or nausea. After exposure to rabies there is no contraindication to its use. Most vaccines do not contain thimerosal. Vaccines made from nerve tissue are used in a few countries, mainly in Asia and Latin America, but are less effective and have greater side effects. Their use is thus not recommended by the World Health Organization.
The first rabies vaccine was introduced in 1885, which was followed by an improved version in 1908. Millions of people globally have been vaccinated and it is estimated that this saves more than 250,000 people a year. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. The wholesale cost in the developing world is between 44 and 78 USD for a course of treatment as of 2014. In the United States a course of rabies vaccine is more than 750 USD.