Fewer rabies shots needed for protection

June 24, 2009 2:48:36 PM PDT
A U.S. immunization advisory group has decided that people exposed to rabies need only four vaccinations, not the five currently recommended. Until the 1970s, an encounter with a rabid animal led to at least 14 shots in the abdomen. But vaccines have improved.

Out of 20,00 to 40,000 Americans exposed to rabies each year, an estimated 1,000 get only three or four shots and none of them have developed rabies. That and other information persuaded the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to vote Wednesday that four shots -- all given within the first 14 days after exposure to rabies -- are sufficient.

The committee advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issues official guidance to doctors.

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