VNDL Rabies Pre-Exposure Vaccination Policy & Information

Why is there a need for a policy?

In January 2022, the AVMA’s Committee for Veterinary Technology Education and Activities (CVTEA) released a new standard requirement for all veterinary technology/nursing programs. It reads:

Rabies exposure is an occupational hazard for all members of the veterinary healthcare team, and preventive measures are necessary to protect personnel. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), pre-exposure vaccination should be offered to persons in high-risk groups, such as veterinarians and their staff. If a program does not require rabies pre-exposure vaccination for veterinary technician program students, the program must provide documentation of their rabies mitigation plan. This plan must include evidence that Appendix A has been reviewed by the institution, and students have been appropriately educated about rabies risks in their geographic area and worldwide.

To remain an AVMA accredited program, Purdue must follow the CVTEA guidelines.

What does this mean for VNDL students?

The VNDL program highly recommends that all students either be inoculated against rabies or for those previously inoculated, have protective rabies titers checked.

It is the policy of the VNDL program to not require pre-exposure vaccines for students. Those students who elect to not receive the rabies pre-exposure vaccination will be required to abide by the procedures outlined in the Rabies Mitigation Policy (VIII Procedure).

Students admitted to the VNDL Program are strongly encouraged to receive the pre-exposure rabies series prior to enrolling in the first mentorship, VM 22300 Pharmacy Clinical Mentorship - DL. Most students register for VM 22300 somewhere between their third and fifth semester in the program. Failure to complete the vaccination series before the start of the VM 22300 course will require those students to abide by the mitigation policy.

What does this mean for attending VNDL summer Workshops?

All VNDL students that attend workshops on the West Lafayette campus or fast-track labs at other facilities must be vaccinated for rabies. Purdue cannot guarantee that all animals utilized in the workshops or fast-track labs will be rabies vaccinated. Attending workshops or fast-track labs are not a required for program completion.

What if I chose to get the pre-exposure vaccine?

If a student is fully vaccinated for rabies, they are permitted to handle unvaccinated animals and will also be exempt from the additional mentorship submission requirements described below. Students can work with unvaccinated animals or animals of unknown vaccination status 14 days after receiving the second dose of the initial rabies vaccine series (2-dose series given at days 0 and 7). However, to continue to be considered fully vaccinated, students must achieve one of the following:

  1. A one-dose booster between 3 weeks and 3 years following the first vaccine in the 2-dose series, or
  2. A one-time titer check between 1 year and up to 3 years following the first 2-dose series.

What is the associated cost with this requirement?

The approximate cost of each vaccination is $280 to $360 per dose, resulting in an overall cost of $560 to $720 for the 2-dose series.

Rabies titers can be performed by various labs around the country including LabCorp or Quest. The cost can vary depending upon your medical and laboratory options. If the test result is negative or below the recommended level for protection, another booster vaccine (and the costs associated) would be required.

Where can I go to receive the vaccines?

 If you currently have health insurance or a relationship with a doctor, we recommend starting there. Important things to clarify:

  • You are entering a high-risk profession
  • This is considered preventative care
  • Pre-exposure vaccination for veterinarians, veterinary technicians or others on the veterinary team can be ordered by a physician or arranged through your local or state health department. Insurance coverage varies, so ask your provider whether your policy includes coverage, either full or partial.

If you would like a letter for your insurance company justifying the need for pre-exposure rabies immunization click this link - Rabies Insurance Letter.

The student may pay for the vaccine and then apply for reimbursement from their insurance company, but it is recommended to contact the company first to attempt to arrange direct payment.

If you are unable to obtain the rabies vaccine from your health care provider, the following options may available:

  • Contact a local pharmacy (e.g., Walgreens) and see if they would administer the vaccination if prescribed by a primary care physician
  • County health departments
  • Contact a local travel clinic
  • Contact a local public health unit

Potential Assistance Programs

Patient assistance programs that provide medications to uninsured or underinsured patients are available for rabies vaccine. The following may be options for assistance:

  • Sanofi Pasteur’s Patient Assistance Program is now administered through the Franklin Group. A healthcare professional or patient can either contact the Franklin Group directly or call the customer service team (1-800-VACCINE) who will transfer them to the Franklin Group. The Franklin Group will review the application against the eligibility criteria. For more information about the program or to request an application, please contact the Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. Patient Assistance Program (Franklin Group) at 1-866-801- 5655. Instructions and request forms are also available at the Sanofi Patient Connection website.
  • Passport Health: Please visit Rabies Vaccine for Humans | Passport Health – A discount coupon for $50 off can be sent to students who select this option.
  • GoodRx

What if I chose not to get the pre-exposure vaccine?

A student who chooses not to get the rabies pre-exposure vaccination will have to abide by the VNDL Rabies Mitigation Policy. REMINDER: Purdue workshops REQUIRE rabies vaccination. There is no mitigation plan for attending on-site workshops.

When working with live animals in your clinical mentorship courses, the VNDL program prohibits unvaccinated students from handling unvaccinated companion animals or unvaccinated farm animals. Exceptions can be made if the patient is not of the appropriate age for vaccination as defined by the state.

All mentorship supervisors and unvaccinated VNDL students must abide by the mitigation policy. Students should communicate with their clinical mentorship supervisor(s) regarding their rabies pre-exposure vaccine status.

To enforce the policy, the VNDL program will now require the following for unvaccinated students:

Student submissions (through the mentorship course learning platform) showing the documentation of the current rabies vaccination in the different species medical records. This medical record will show the type and expiration of the vaccine used and the date the animal was vaccinated.

We realize that these changes will require extra time, efforts, and logistical coordination for our students. The CVTEA has remained rigid in this rabies standard which impacts all veterinary technology/nursing programs.

All VNDL students that attend summer workshops on the West Lafayette campus or any other fast-track lab locations must be vaccinated for rabies. Purdue cannot guarantee that all animals utilized in the workshops and fast-track labs will be rabies vaccinated.