Rabies vaccines: WHO position paper – April 2018

Weekly epidemiological record

WHO/Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases

Publication details

Editors: Dr B. Abela Ridder/Neglected Zoonotic Diseases
Number of pages: 18 p.
Publication date: 20 April 2018
Languages: English and French
WHO reference number:
No 16, 2018, 93, 201–220



In accordance with its mandate to provide guidance to Member States on health policy matters, WHO issues a series of regularly updated position papers on vaccines and combinations of vaccines against diseases that have an international public health impact. They summarize essential background information on diseases and vaccines and conclude with the current WHO position on the use of vaccines worldwide.

The papers are reviewed by external experts and WHO staff, and reviewed and endorsed by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunization. The GRADE methodology is used to systematically assess the quality of the available evidence. The SAGE decision-making process is reflected in the evidence-to-recommendation tables. A description of the processes followed for the development of vaccine position papers is available at http://www.who.int/immunization/position_papers/position_ paper_process.pdf

The position papers are intended for use mainly by national public health officials. They may also be of interest to international funding agencies, vaccine advisory groups, vaccine manufacturers, the medical community, the scientific media and the general public.

This position paper replaces the 2010 WHO position on rabies vaccines.1 It presents new evidence in the field of rabies and the use of rabies vaccines, focusing on programmatic feasibility, simplification of vaccination schedules and improved cost-effectiveness. The recommendations concern the 2 main immunization strategies, namely vaccination for post-exposure prophylaxis and vaccination for pre-exposure prophylaxis. In the context of post-exposure prophylaxis, recommendations are also provided on the use of rabies immunoglobulins.

Recommendations on the use of rabies vaccines were discussed by SAGE in October 2017; evidence presented at the meeting can be accessed at: www.who.int/immunization/sage/meetings/2017/october/presentations_ background_docs/en/

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