Rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins: WHO position

Summary of 2017 updates

World Health Organization

Publication details

Editors: Dr B. Abela-Ridder/Neglected zoonotic diseases
Number of pages: 4 .p
Publication date: January 2018
WHO reference number:



The new WHO recommendations for rabies immunization supersede the 2010 WHO positionon pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for rabies. These updated recommendations are based on new evidence and directed by public health needs that are cost-, dose- and time-sparing, while assuring safety and clinical effectiveness. In addition, new guidance on prudent use of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) is provided.

The following sections summarize the main points of the updated WHO position as endorsed by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization (SAGE) at its meeting in October 2017. The full version of the WHO position on rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins will be published in the Weekly Epidemiological Record in April 2018.

Rabies prevention involves two main strategies: (i) dog vaccination to interrupt virus transmission to humans; and (ii) human vaccination as a series of vaccine administrations before an exposure or following an exposure. Currently, rabies vaccines made from inactivated cell cultures are extremely well tolerated and have no contraindications.