Veterinarians seeking human rabies vaccinations, titer tests, have options

Published on March 15, 2006
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Physicians, local health departments, and travel clinics may offer pre-exposure human rabies vaccinations to veterinarians and their staff. Veterinarians also have several options on where to receive a rabies titer test.

Veterinarians can contact their physician and make an appointment to be vaccinated, said Dr. Connie Austin, state public health veterinarian at the Illinois Department of Public Health. Veterinarians should indicate the need for a rabies vaccination ahead of time, she said, because the vaccines are not as common as others and are generally more expensive. The physician might require a prepayment, especially if the veterinarian makes appointments for multiple staff members to receive vaccinations.

Though a physician is a good place to start looking for a rabies vaccination, Dr. Austin said, some physicians don't normally offer the vaccine and so, they may not feel comfortable administering it. In that case, veterinarians can help inform their physicians about human rabies prevention by providing them with "Human Rabies Prevention—United States, 1999 Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization," a report published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report describes what persons should receive pre-exposure vaccinations, vaccines licensed for use in the United States, serologic testing, and precautions. For a copy of the report, visit the rabies section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site at, click on Prevention & Control, and then click on the link under Preexposure prophylaxis.

If a physician is unable to provide a rabies vaccination, Dr. Austin said, the veterinarian might consider contacting the local health department for a vaccination. For a directory of local public health agencies, log on to the National Association of County Health Officials Web site at, and then click on the appropriate state.

Travel clinics specializing in vaccinations for international travelers may also offer rabies vaccinations.

For veterinarians interested in obtaining rabies titer tests, several state veterinary medical associations provide them at their annual meetings.

It's an opportunity for busy veterinarians to take care of their rabies titer tests, and then they don't have to worry about it later, said Karlene Belyea, executive director for the Michigan VMA, which offers the tests at its conference.

The AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust offers rabies titer tests in the Wellness Center at the AVMA Annual Convention.

In addition, state or local health departments can provide the names and addresses of laboratories performing rabies titer tests.

Once they've secured a location to receive a rabies vaccination, AVMA members insured under the AVMA GHLIT basic protection package can make use of the rabies prophylaxis benefit. The package is available to recent veterinary student graduates and veterinary professionals who qualify for the benefits. For more information, call the GHLIT at (800) 621-6360 or visit