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I am new to taking care of or adopting puppies. I just adopted a 4 months old puppy, and am planning to get her vaccinated later next week. But in the future, with plans to adopt more puppies, is it a good idea for my pets and I to get vaccinated regularly (maybe annually or every 2 years) as a good measure? Reading articles about how dangerous the rabies virus is has made me a bit paranoid.

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    Where are you? Is rabies endemic in your area? – curiousdannii Mar 27 at 1:18
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    @ArielMagbanua What country? In some, rabies has almost been eradicated, while in others, it is endemic. – StephenS Mar 27 at 13:59
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    @ArielMagbanua The Philippines ranks fourth in the world for rabies cases, so you absolutely need to get your pets vaccinated. – StephenS Mar 27 at 15:45
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    @user20149 well I've gotten them, now you've heard. It's common if you travel somewhere with rabies and the possibility of bad/slow medical aid. Without a vaccine after the bite, rabies is, afaik, 100% deadly. Having been vaccinated at least buys you time to get more vaccines. – DonQuiKong Mar 27 at 16:58
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    @user20149 High-risk humans (animal control, vets, etc) should get vaccinated, but it’s expensive. See the links in Kai’s answer. – StephenS Mar 27 at 18:13
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All pets should be regularly vaccinated against rabies. Typically the first shot is done at a few months old, and additional shots are done every 1 or 3 years thereafter; your vet should track this and remind you when shots are due for each pet. Depending on where you live, doing this may be required by law, but even if not, it’s still a good idea. (There are also other vaccinations you should consider, but they vary by species.)

Human vaccination is much less common. The idea is that if you get bitten by an animal not known to be vaccinated, then you will tell a doctor immediately and get the necessary shots. However, if you live in an area where rabies is common or if you frequently handle strange animals, then ask your doctor about getting shots regularly just like your pets.

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    In practice you just go to the vet once a year and the animal gets "some shots". Rabies, distemper, whatever else. Many pet owners probably don't even know. The one weird thing is that apparently all shots are now good for 2 or 3 years, so some years your pet won't need any shots. The vet may still have you bring it in that year for a check-up. – Owen Reynolds Mar 27 at 4:11
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Foremost, I will note that policies for vaccinating against rabies might differ for different areas. My knowledge is most applicable to the United States.

As for pets, not only should you get them vaccinated for rabies every one to three years, it's a legal requirement.

Humans, on the other hand, only receive regular vaccinations if they are at an unusually high risk of exposure, such as if they work regularly with animals that might not be vaccinated.

Why do we only vaccinate people considered to be at high risk?

The reason for this is generally that the cost isn't worth the benefit you get for the amount of risk an average person typically has.

The former statement might sound outlandish in the face of rabies' practical one hundred percent fatality rate, but key to this is that unlike other infectious diseases we vaccinate for, there is a vaccine for rabies that is effective post-exposure. Furthermore, even if you are vaccinated, if you are exposed, you still have to receive additional boosters and treatments, though of course it is less than an unvaccinated person would receive. The savings, however, definitely does not offset the cost of regular vaccinations, especially when exposure is pretty uncommon in general.

In fact, it's uncommon enough that there is a problem where vets often put themselves at extra risk by forgoing the pre-exposure vaccine due to its costs. It is still considered recommended for those of high risk to get the pre-exposure vaccine for minimizing the amount of post-exposure treatment.

Why vaccinate animals and not humans?

With pets, there is no vaccine that can be administered completely post-exposure. It's important to know though that your pet will still require boosters even if it is vaccinated if it ends up being exposed.

If you don't get your pet vaccinated, and there is any risk of exposure, it must either be carefully quarantined and observed, or immediately euthanized if the exposure is pretty certain. It also is common policy at places like animal shelters to immediately euthanize animals that have an unknown background that have bitten someone. This is because the only medical tests for rabies cannot be performed on a live animal, and so the fastest way to determine the person's risk is to euthanize. All this is why it is extremely important to make sure your dog is vaccinated.

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  • Even if there were a post exposure for pets, it wouldn't be as effective as breaking the disease. Though it is curious the pet vaccine is cheaper than the human one. Note that rabies does not normally spread person to person. – Joshua Mar 27 at 2:13
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    @Joshua Mandatory pet vaccination in developed countries means huge economies of scale. If it were mandatory for humans, like MMR, the price would drop for us too. – StephenS Mar 27 at 14:02
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    The other aspect of the cost/benefit equation for human rabies vaccination is that a vast majority of people in many developed countries will never even come close to being exposed during their lifetimes. Half the world population doesn’t even live in regions where rabies is prevalent, and even in regions where it’s present the risk of exposure can be quite low (in the US for example, it’s rather common among wildlife, but there were only 125 human rabies cases from 1960 to 2018, and almost 30% where attributed to dog bites during international travel). – Austin Hemmelgarn Mar 27 at 15:25
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I see from your profile page that you're in the Phillipines. According to this World Health Organization page on the occurence of rabies worldwide, dogs are the most likely vector for rabies in the Phillipines, and thus as a responsible dog owner it's a smart thing for you to have your pets and yourself vaccinated against rabies.

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    Welcome to Pets, this answer is a bit short, please consider adding some more information, thanks. – lila Mar 28 at 16:33
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Couple of things rabies vaccination scheme are regulated on jurisdiction to jurisdiction bases. This in turn is subject of how prevalent the possibility of exposure or endemic disease is?

Are your pets exposed to feral animals or wild settings where you don't know what they have been up to? Dogs you can keep on leash, but cats - they roam around everywhere. Then comes around what other animal kingdom you have in your neighbourhood: bats, raccoons, foxes, mice, etc.

Based on above and as general guidelines, all pets should be administered starter shot when brought into home. Now days shots last for about 2-3 years effectiveness in animals and 3-5 years in humans.

There are boosters one should get again, depending on variables as discussed on the start of the question. Hypothetically, if probabilities of exposure are very low then starter vaccine may protect up to 10 years, but since it's hard to judge the variables if you have no known interaction points then booster every odd years is good to go. people working with animals, zoo and people working in offices have different very different exposure environment. I know for fact people working with bats get boosters every year. There are also some guidelines (not strictly followed, though) when travelling abroad to certain regions either get vaccinated or get booster before travel.

Just an example and it's general guideline, but varies country to country e.g. Canada, USA, UK, rest of ASIA, etc.

Once we found bat in the room and it was flying about around 2-3 am or so. Not sure if it bit anyone or not, protocol called for everyone to be vaccinated again. Some odd years later there was again bat about here and there protocol called for getting vaccinated or booster (single shot).

SO what makes someone decide should they and shouldn't they get vaccinated? Answer is chance, and attitude is you would not risk the chance.

So if the chances are you are in area where there are lots of exposure possibilities and you have been known to come into occurrences of then get vaccinated or booster whichever applicable.

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