Rabies Shots

How often should my dog get a rabies vaccine? I've been told that we have to have the rabies vaccination every year. My vet told me some time ago that the vaccination was good for over two years. I guess that no matter which shot you got it would be good for the same length of time. Is it the same shot no matter which one you pay for? Was the law about yearly vaccinations made before the advancements in the vaccine and nobody changed the law?

Let me set the record straight on the rabies vaccines.

First of all, there are something like 20 different approved rabies vaccines in the US alone. There are actually several different strains. Of those 20 vaccines, all but one I think are killed virus vaccines - the other is a modified live version. Depending on the vaccine used, effective immunity is either 1 or 3 years. Most vets seem to use the vaccines that are good for 3 years (counting on the unreliability of most dog owners to get their dogs revaccinated yearly). Many state and local laws (Florida included) require yearly vaccinations against rabies and registration with the county animal service. This is done for several reasons:

1) it gets owners in to the vet at least once a year. Annual checkups are important to a dog's health and this is an effective (albeit oppressive) means of ensuring owners make it to the vet.

2) annual rabies vaccine licenses issued by the county or state generate a lot of needed revenue. In Dade County, Florida, it's a $25 a dog fee. This adds up.

3) just to ensure that the vaccine is effective, the county or state require the yearly boosters, even though the vaccine may be good for 3 years. To them, one vaccine every 3 years is safe. Three vaccines every 3 years is triple the safety. Biologically, this may be untrue but state and local legislators are not known for their keen appreciation of science.

There are no vaccines, as far as I know, that claim immunity for 2 years. All are either for 1 or 3 years of immunity. You need to check with the manufacturer of each vaccine to be sure which it is.

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