The rabies vaccine is recommended if you are planning on travelling overseas to a country where the risk of catching rabies is high, please refer to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website to see if you are going to a country where there is a high risk of infection.
In Australia, those in contact with bats are at an increased risk of ABL and vaccination is recommended. If you are at a continual risk of exposure, you may also require booster doses in the future, please speak with your doctor.
Bitten or scratched by a potentially infected animal?
Post (after) exposure rabies vaccines are recommended to all individuals who have been potentially exposed to the rabies virus or Australian bat lyssavirus following a bite or scratch from:
a bat (in Australia or overseas)
an animal in a country where rabies is found.
Reports of exposure should be made PRIOR TO COMMENCING ANY TREATMENT WITH RABIES IMMUNOGLOBLUIN OR RABIES VACCINE, as soon as possible.
Treatment will vary depending on the type of exposure, previous vaccine history and any treatments that may have been commenced overseas at the time of the exposure. You may also need rabies immunoglobulin injected into the area around the bite or scratch to give you immediate protection.
How the rabies vaccine is given
The rabies vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age, and the top of the arm from 12 months of age.
If you require rabies vaccine prior to travelling, or if you are involved closely with bats in Australia, a total of three vaccines will be required.
If you require post exposure treatment:
two vaccines may be required if you have previously received a primary course (three doses)
four vaccines will be required if you have not previously received a primary course (three doses).
Once started, post-exposure rabies treatment must be completed unless directed by a medical officer in SA Health's Communicable Disease Control Branch, because the disease is almost always fatal.
Possible side effects of the rabies vaccines
Like any medications, the rabies vaccine can have some minor and short lasting side effects.
Common side effects include:
redness and swelling at the injection site
feeling tired and lethargic.
Very rarely, you may experience a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.
Use of the information and data contained within this site or these pages is at your sole risk.
If you rely on the information on this site you are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency or completeness.
This site includes links to other websites operated by community, business and government.
These linked websites will have their own terms and conditions of use and you should familiarise yourself with these.
All linked websites are linked 'as is' and the Government of South Australia:
does not sponsor, endorse or necessarily approve of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations regarding the quality, accuracy, merchantability or fitness for purpose of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations that material on other websites to which this site is linked does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any person anywhere in the world; and
does not authorise the infringement of any intellectual property rights contained in material in other websites by linking this site to those other websites.
If you use automatic language translation services in connection with this site you do so at your own risk.
The information and data on this site is subject to change without notice. The Government of South Australia may revise this disclaimer at any time by updating this posting.
The Government of South Australia, its agents, instrumentalities, officers and employees:
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information and data contained on this site
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy or usefulness of any translation of the information on this site or any linked website into another language
make no representations as to the availability of the site and the availability of websites linked from or to the site
accept no liability however arising for any loss resulting from the use of the site and any information and data or reliance placed on it (including translated information and data)
make no representations, either expressed or implied, as to the suitability of the said information and data for any particular purpose
accepts no liability for any interference with or damage to a user's computer, software or data occurring in connection with or relating to this Site or its use or any website linked to this site
do not represent or warrant that applications or payments initiated through this site will in fact be received or made to the intended recipient. Users are advised to confirm the application or payment by other means.