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Rabies Pre-Exposure Intradermal Vaccine Discontinued

Intramuscular vaccine will still be available

Intramuscular vaccine will still be available

Aventis Pasteur, maker of the only rabies pre-exposure intradermal vaccine, has discontinued the product after determining that automating the intensive manual manufacturing process would be too expensive.

The intramuscular version of the vaccine used for pre- and post-exposure inoculations will still be available. And according to the manufacturer, it is a superior product with higher concentrations and a better method of administration—directly into the muscle rather than under the skin. Additionally, studies have found that the intramuscular vaccination offers a more immediate protection response after the first dose and higher titer levels over the long term than its intradermal counterpart.

Unfortunately, the intramuscular vaccine is more expensive: One dose can cost anywhere from $115 to $150. To be fully vaccinated (pre-exposed), a person must receive three doses over a 30-day period for a total cost of more than $350.

If you work in the animal care and control field, however, the benefits of receiving the pre-exposure series far outweigh the costs. Pre-exposure vaccination may help protect professionals in the field who are exposed to rabies unknowingly or who are unable to obtain treatment after possible exposure. Additionally, it spares infected individuals from having to undergo the full post-exposure series. If you’ve had potential contact with rabies, the therapy will be minimal if you’ve already been vaccinated: Whereas full treatment would require an injection of human rabies immune globulin as well as five other shots over a 28-day period, pre-exposed individuals need only receive two 1-milliliter intramuscular doses of the vaccine—one immediately following the exposure and one three days later.

If you would like to receive the pre-exposure intramuscular vaccine, contact your physician or local health department to learn what the procedures are in your area. The doctor or health officials may also order the vaccine directly from Aventis Pasteur by calling 1-800-VACCINE; some health departments already purchase vaccines in bulk and may be able to offer a better price because of their large-quantity orders.


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