Should my staff and I be vaccinated?

Preexposure vaccination should be offered to persons in high-risk groups, such as veterinarians, animal handlers, and certain laboratory workers. Pre-exposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for additional therapy after a rabies exposure, but it simplifies therapy by eliminating the need for RIG and decreasing the number of doses of vaccine needed.

Preexposure prophylaxis might protect persons whose postexposure therapy is delayed and might provide protection to persons at risk for unapparent exposures to rabies. Preexposure vaccination can be given intramuscularly and consists of three injections, one injection per day on days 0, 7, and 21 or 28.

Veterinarians and their staff are classified in either the frequent or infrequent risk categories based on whether they are in rabies enzootic areas. Persons in the rabies enzootic areas are considered to be in the frequent-risk category and should have a serum sample tested for rabies antibody every 2 years; if the titer is less than complete neutralization at a 1:5 serum dilution by the RFFIT, the person also should receive a single booster dose of vaccine. Veterinarians, veterinary students, and animal-control and wildlife officers working in areas with low rabies rates (infrequent exposure group) do not require routine preexposure booster doses of vaccine after completion of primary preexposure vaccination.