Rabies Vaccinations for Employees and Students

What You Should Know Before You Sign Up to Take the Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is mandatory for DVM students and for many employees of the SVM. Taking the vaccine should be given priority over other activities. The LSU Student Health Center personnel will come to the SVM to administer the vaccine each year in August and September, so make your plans accordingly once the dates and times are announced.

Proof of prior immunization in the form of a positive titer or vaccination records showing that the student took the recommended three vaccine pre-exposure protocol as per ACIP recommendations can be presented in writing from a physician’s office/lab to the Office of Student Affairs and Veterinary Education (students) prior to the start of school or at the time of SVM sponsored vaccination or to the hospital administration (employees) prior to beginning work in the hospital. For students that received a 2 vaccine protocol during the pre-clinical phase of their DVM training at another institution, written proof of the immunizations must be provided, and a single booster must be administered after arriving at LSU SVM. Alternatively, the student may present proof of a positive titer upon arrival to the SVM and prior to starting their clinical phase.

If receiving pre-exposure prophylaxis at the LSU SVM, it consists of a 3-dose series and the timing of these doses is critical for development of immunity. This means you must take EACH dose when it is scheduled. In emergency situations, arrangements can be made for you to go to the Student Health Center to take the vaccine if no more than a day or two has passed. If you become ill during the series, contact the Student Health Center (225-578-6271) and Dr. Bonnie Boudreaux (bbruggmann@lsu.edu or 225-578-9537) or Ms. Stephanie Willis (stephaniewillis@lsu.edu or 25-578-9554) for advice. If you do not complete the series as scheduled, you may have to retake the entire series, either the next year at the SVM if you are a first year student, or from your own physician if you will be seeing animals before the next scheduled vaccination clinic in the fall.

If you are now taking corticosteroids, if you have had any of these drugs in the last few weeks, or if you have an immunosuppressive illness, the rabies vaccine may not produce active immunity. If you are in this situation, check with Dr. Bonnie Boudreaux so special arrangements can be made.

Serious reactions to this vaccine are very rare, but as with all vaccines, the medical personnel don’t take any chances. Therefore, you will be required to wait in the Auditorium for 30 minutes following each injection.

Mild side effects are fairly common. These are similar to those that are experienced with many vaccines and are NOT a reason to discontinue taking the series. Do not be surprised if your arm is sore, reddened, or swollen at the injection site. You may also experience headaches, muscle aches, or feel as if you are coming down with the flu. Again, these reactions are NOT considered reason for discontinuing the series. The discomfort generally lasts less than 24 hours and can usually be managed with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).

Remember, the benefits of the pre-exposure vaccine series far outweigh the risks and inconvenience. And you’ll probably never have to take the series again!

The cost of the vaccine is determined based on the cost that LSU is able to get it for. The cost is generally around $275 per dose payable to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine but the exact cost will be determined prior to each year’s fall vaccination clinic.  Please note that at times a less expensive option is available through state health departments, local pharmacies, or one’s physician. Check with your insurance company to determine if the vaccination series is covered by your health insurance.  Not all insurance will cover the vaccines and some that do will not cover it if you receive the vaccines from the school. We provide a receipt after the 3rd dose and they can submit a claim for reimbursement (but not all insurance companies actually cover it).