Which rabies vaccines are used in the US, and what are their adverse effects?

Updated: Jun 21, 2019
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Two different inactivated rabies vaccines are licensed and produced in the United States, as follows:

  • Human diploid cell vaccine (HDCV; Imovax) - Usual dosing for postexposure prophylaxis to be administered as IM injection

  • Purified chick embryo cell vaccine (PCEC; RabAvert) - Licensed in the United States in 1997 for IM use only

Doses of all the vaccines for postexposure prophylaxis are 1 mL IM in the deltoid or in the upper outer thigh in infants.

Mild local and systemic adverse reactions to these vaccines and immunoglobulin may occur but are usually treatable with supportive care, antihistamines, and anti-inflammatory medications. Local pain, erythema, headache, nausea, and abdominal pain may occur. If prophylaxis is warranted, do not postpone or discontinue treatment because of mild adverse effects.

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