Rabies vaccine

  • IASbaba
  • September 13, 2022
  • 0
Science and Technology
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In News: Death of a 12-year-old girl in Kerala from rabies, despite having multiple inoculations of the rabies vaccine.

  • From 2016-18, around 300 laboratory-confirmed rabies deaths were reported in India. The WHO says India is endemic for rabies and accounts for 36% of the world’s deaths.
  • As per available information, Rabies causes 18,000-20,000 deaths every year.
  • About 30-60% of reported rabies cases and deaths in India occur in children under the age of 15 years, as bites that occur in children often go unrecognised and unreported, it notes.

About Rabies

  • Rabies is a disease that is caused by a family of viruses called the lyssaviruses and found in a range of mammals.
  • The virus targets the central nervous system and is nearly 100% fatal to the host animal if it succeeds in infecting it.
  • It is most likely to spread to people from the bite of an infected dog or a cat as they are the most common pets.

Significance of Rabies vaccine

  • The vaccine is made up of an inactivated virus that is expected to induce the body into producing antibodies that can neutralise the live virus in case of infection.
  • There is no single-shot rabies vaccine or one that offers permanent immunity.
  • Administering a vaccine, even after being bitten by a rabid animal, is effective because the virus is slow-moving and it can be several weeks before the disease manifests into a fatal encephalitis.
  • A shot of rabies immunoglobulin (rabies-antibodies against the virus derived either from people or horses) followed by a four-week course of anti-rabies vaccine, is nearly guaranteed to prevent rabies.
  • There are mainly two ways of administering the rabies vaccine – firstly, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) which is given to persons who have been exposed via a bite to an animal suspected to be infected. The vaccines are administered either into the muscles, or into the skin.
  • Secondly, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) which is given ahead of time to persons who have a high risk of being infected, such as veterinarians.
  • The advantage of a PrEP is that if bitten, one doesn’t need an immunoglobulin injection, and two subsequent shots of the vaccine will suffice for full protection, unlike the four-course prescription in the case of PEP.
  • However, the WHO doesn’t recommend PrEP as a general preventive.

Rabies vaccines in India

  • There are at least six rabies vaccines approved for India and all contain inactivated virus made of duck, chicken or human cell cultures.
  • They are marked as safe, efficacious and with long immunity.
  • They are available for free in government dispensaries .


  • Hospitals running out of vaccines
  • Knowledge about vaccines and treatment is still inadequate in India.
  • No centralised database of vaccine availability is maintained.
  • Requirement of multiple shots of vaccine as well as immunoglobin makes sticking to the schedule challenging.

Way forward

  • India has committed to eliminate the disease by 2030 which requires vaccination of dogs who are deemed responsible for 99% of all rabies infections in people
  • Hence, the government in its 2021 plan, called the ‘National Action for Plan — Rabies Elimination’, aims to vaccinate at least 70% of all dogs in a defined geographical area annually for three consecutive years.
  • With this, a degree of herd immunity is expected leading to eventual elimination within eight years. Rather than inoculate all dogs, the plan is to identify ‘rabies hotspots’ in the country and target them.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) What is the importance of using \ Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines in India? (2020)

  1. These vaccines are effective against pneumonia as well as meningitis and sepsis.
  2. Dependence on antibiotics that are not effective against drug-resistant bacteria can be reduced.
  3. These vaccines have no side effects and cause no allergic reactions.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3


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