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Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks cells of the nervous system. How many vaccine shots do you need to protect yourself if you are exposed to rabies? In the 1970s, you would have to get 20 shots! For the past 20 years, a total of five shots in the arm or thigh were recommended. Now, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that only four shots are necessary.
The ACIP made its recommendation in response to the reduced supply of available rabies vaccine. Experts reviewed rabies research studies and determined that four doses of the vaccine were just as effective as five doses. The four shots should be given on the day of exposure to rabies and then on days 3, 7 and 14 after exposure.
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