Rabies shots for humans are typically recommended when traveling in a foreign country, outside the United States. Rabies vaccines can prevent getting infected with the rabies virus while traveling to foreign countries, where there is more exposure to this disease. That is why doctors will recommend having the rabies vaccine in advance, before traveling, as a precaution for foreign diseases.
However, professionals like veterinarians, animal handlers, and even laboratory workers are usually advised to get rabies shots periodically. This is due to the fact that they are more likely to get this disease from working with animals on a daily basis.
While the rabies shot is not mandatory when traveling in a foreign country where you are more prone to getting this virus, experts recommend getting the vaccine as a preventive measure.
Also, in case you get bitten by a wild animal like a fox, for example, it is necessary to get the rabies shot as soon as possible.
How Much Do Rabies Shots Cost for Humans?
The cost of a rabies shot without any health insurance coverage can range anywhere from $250 up to $1,300 per dose in the United States. This cost will greatly depend on your geographical location, the health history of the patient, the severity of the contact with a suspected rabid animal, and the facility where the vaccine is performed.
For a full course of rabies treatment, you can expect to pay somewhere from $1,200 up to $6,500 and even more. Take into consideration that these costs are only for the vaccines and other fees may still apply to the final bill.
How Much Do Rabies Shots Cost With Insurance?
Patients who are covered by health insurance can expect to pay between $30 to $150 per dose, depending on the type of coverage, the dose that is administered with each injection, and the facility that performs the vaccines.
Also, the brand of the rabies vaccine has a great impact on the cost. For instance, Hillsborough.FloridaHealth.gov notes that the cost of a rabies vaccine from the Rabavert brand is around $291 while the Imovax may be $300.
According to RabiesDoc.com, the cost will heavily depend on the facility type. The doctor behind the article stated that one patient went to the Emergency Department when being at risk of rabies from animal exposure, and was billed $17,574 for the HRIG vaccine (Human Rabies Immune Globine) and $1,979 for one dose of Rabies Vaccine, plus other administration fees. While, at their medical facility, a patient was billed around $3,500 for the HRIG and $470 per Rabies Vaccine dose.
Mdsave.com provides the Rabies Vaccine for $29 to $792, depending on whether you are covered by health insurance or not. They state that the estimated national average cost for Rabies vaccines is around $1,241, while their MDsave clinics’ national average is around $529. However, the cost will depend on the geographical location and provider. For instance, in Texas, the average cost for this vaccine is around $626, while in California, the average regional cost is around $29.
Take into consideration that these costs are estimates and are subject to change. As stated above, depending on your geographical location, whether you have health insurance or not, the facility where the rabies vaccine is performed, and other important factors, the cost will heavily vary.
Another factor that can affect the cost of the rabies vaccine is how it is administered. For example, a member of the Quora.com forum stated that the cost of an ID (intradermal) rabies vaccine can be between $150 to $200 per dose while the IM (intramuscular) rabies vaccine will be around $450, depending on where it is performed.
CDC.gov states that the average cost of a course of rabies immune globulin and four doses of vaccine performed over a two-week period will cost around $3,800. They also say that this fee will not include other expenses such as hospital treatment or possible wound care.
However, there are cases when the hospital bill may do more harm than rabies, as stated on ABC7News.com. In the article, one couple was amazed by a bill of around $100,000 for a rabies vaccine after crossing paths with a bat. They stated that for a 15-minute visit at the local nonprofit NorthBay Healthcare VacaValley Hospital, a blood pressure test, and injections with the rabies vaccine, the bill was more than $112,000.
Rabies vaccine overview
Rabies vaccines are available to immunize individuals before or after exposure to rabies. For example, PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is recommended for people who may work in environments where rabies may be present such as veterinarians or individuals who are thinking of traveling in foreign countries, which may be more susceptible to this disease.
However, the PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is mandatory for individuals who have encountered animals that are commonly known to be infected with the rabies virus such as foxes, bats, squirrels, and others.
At your visit to the medical facility for rabies vaccines, first, the doctor will discuss the circumstances of the encounter with the possible infected animal, to determine the severity of the exposure.
Then, a nurse will administer the HRIG vaccine (Human Rabies Immune Globine) and the first dose of Rabies Vaccine. The following rabies vaccines will be done on days 3, 7, and 14, and an additional fifth rabies vaccine on day 28, after the exposure.
If there is any wound made by the possibly infected animal, it will be disinfected and cleaned.
The rabies vaccine immunization may last up to two years from the tenth day of the administration.
Exposure categories and indications for PEP
There are three categories of exposure when it comes to animals that may be infected with rabies such as:
- Category I: When the suspected rabid animal is touched, fed, or even licks your skin in an area where you have no previous wound. In this case, a PEP for rabies prevention is not needed. Just wash the skin and other surfaces touched by the animal.
- Category II: Any wound or scratch made by a suspected rabid animal on the individual’s skin. This case will require washing the wound and immediate rabies vaccination.
- Category III: This is a severe exposure when a suspected rabid animal causes one or multiple transdermal wounds, with mucous membrane contamination or ruptured skin, with the presence of the animal saliva, or direct contact with bats. This exposure will require immediate wound washing, rabies vaccination, and administration of rabies immunoglobulin.
What are the extra costs?
Other fees such as for the office visit at your local doctor may apply. The cost for a visit can range between $10 and $200, depending on your health insurance coverage.
Another fee that may be charged additionally, is the shot administration fee, usually billed at hospitals. The cost can vary between $30 and $100 or even more, depending on the facility and your health insurance coverage.
In case the course of the rabies vaccine series is not effective in the long term, take into consideration that multiple tests and vaccines may be required. The cost will greatly vary, due to its rarity and facility’s processes and performances.
The location you visit in order to get the rabies vaccine will heavily influence the overall cost. For example, Emergency rooms are typically 60% more expensive than a doctor’s office.
Important things to consider
In order to prevent infection or exposure to a possible rabid animal, avoid touching wild animals or even stray animals. It is recommended not to touch animals that are wounded or dead. It is important to notify a professional when coming into contact with any animal.
In case there is the presence of a wild animal on your property, inside the house, it is recommended to contact a local pest prevention service. Do not try to remove them yourself.
Dogs are the cause of human rabies mortality in 99% of the cases. Rabies can be avoided by vaccinating dogs and avoiding dog bites.
In America, the first cause of human rabies is the hematophagous bat.
Children between the ages of 5 and 14 are common victims of exposure or infection of rabies.
The average period of rabies incubation is around two to three months but in some occasions, it can vary from one week to one year.
Symptoms of rabies exposure typically include a fever, headache, fatigue, or a sore throat.
With the exception of Antarctica, rabies can be found on practically every continent. Canine rabies is prevalent in many rural places in the Philippines, Pakistan, China, India, Haiti, Thailand, Brazil, and other nations.
Patients who are known with allergies or a weak immune system are recommended to discuss these issues with the doctor before receiving the rabies vaccine.
Individuals who are traveling in foreign countries that are susceptible to rabies disease, are recommended to receive the PrEP rabies vaccine at least 28 days prior to the travel. Keep in mind that the rabies vaccines are effective only if all the series of doses are done.
Also, consider that the rabies vaccine is effective for up to two years. If after those two years, you want to travel again to a foreign country, it is recommended to get the rabies vaccine again.
How can I save money?
Consider getting this shot at a local health center. You should check with your state’s department clinic to see if they offer something like this.
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and prevention) can help you find a location suitable for your budget. Take into consideration that there are several state programs that can help you receive the rabies vaccine at an affordable cost.
Before getting the rabies vaccine, contact your insurance company to learn more about the coverage of the vaccine.
When the rabies vaccine is received due to a neighbor’s animal bite or wound exposure, contact a lawyer. Your medical bill may be covered by the pet’s owner due to his or her negligence. A lawsuit for negligence and damage can compensate your medical bill.
College students may receive vaccines at a discounted rate at their school’s health center.
According to E7Health.com, you should pick a facility that provides the vaccine and prescriptions.