Health Policy FAQ

Yes, all Purdue Veterinary Medicine (PVM) students must have current coverage under a health/medical insurance plan. Each student will be required to attest to proof of coverage at the beginning of each academic year. Failure to have health/medical insurance will result in a student not being enrolled in classes. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccinations for all veterinary workers. Since you will have significant animal contact even in your first year, the vaccinations are required for first year students. 

This decision is based on vaccination availability and cost to you, which is determined by your health insurance.  Some insurance companies require patients to get vaccinations within their networks. However, many physicians cannot order the vaccinations for their patients due to vaccine availability issues. If you cannot get the vaccinations through your personal physician, you will be able to get these vaccinations at Purdue through PUP when school begins. Please be aware that the PUP is not a preferred provider for all health insurance companies. Testing and immunizations received via the PUP may not be covered by your insurance or may be covered at lower out-of-network rates with more cost to you. For more information about whether your health insurance coverage, you may contact your insurance provide or PUP at (765) 494-1374. We recommend you check with your local medical clinician, health department, and/or pharmacies for cost and availability of rabies vaccine.  If you are able to get the vaccinations through your physician, be sure to start the vaccination series as soon as possible because it is a series of three inoculations.  

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends intramuscular injections of either human diploid cell rabies vaccine (HDCV- brand name Imovax Rabies, produced by Sanofi Pasteur) or purified chick embryo cell vaccine (PCEC- brand name RabAvert, produced by Novartis).

In May 2022 the CDC updated rabies vaccines recommendations.  In the past, all veterinary workers got three doses of rabies vaccine over one month.  In May 2022, the recommendation changed.  Now veterinary workers are recommended to get two initial doses of rabies vaccine one week apart.  One year later, you have the option to get a blood test to check immunity OR to get a third booster shot of rabies vaccine.  The blood test is less expensive (about $87 for the blood test versus about $350 for vaccine), but if the blood test is negative then you need a booster shot of the vaccine, bringing your cost to approximately $437.00. 

The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine health policy recommends the rabies vaccination series intramuscular options which are approved by the CDC here in the US. The intradermal route is not approved here in the US due to past cases of this immunization method resulting in inadequate immunity, rabies infection, and death. 

Here is a link to information relating to this issue from the CDC Yellow Book, the definitive text on infectious disease policy in the US:  

PVM Student Services has arranged with PUP to offer vaccinations after you arrive on campus. Once arranged, we will share more information about scheduling these appointments.

If you have previously had the pre-exposure or post-exposure rabies immunization series, you need nothing else at this time. In Indiana, routine yearly titers or boosters are not required for most fully vaccinated veterinary workers and will not be required while you are a student at Purdue. However, if you work with wildlife, or will leave the state after you graduate, you may need a titer and booster at a later date.

If you think you were vaccinated but aren’t sure, or aren’t confident you received the immunizations at the proper time intervals, a blood test (RFFIT or Rapid Fluorescent Focus Inhibition Test ) is the recommended blood test to evaluate  immunity. 

A “positive” result on the RFFIT blood test is defined by the CDC..  This result is usually reported in international units per milliliter, and a result of greater than or equal to 0.5 IU/mL is considered positive. This result provides minimum evidence of circulating rabies virus neutralizing antibodies.  If  the RFFIT result is negative, a booster immunization with rabies vaccine is recommended by the CDC. 

Please note that ELISA methods of testing rabies antibodies do not provide evidence for immunity. 

RFFIT-methodology rabies immunity testing is available at major laboratories including LabCorp.  The lab test code for this test at LabCorp is 083885 and the cash cost is usually around $87 (May 2022).  You can schedule a visit with a physician at PUSH or see your personal physician for this blood test.

You and your personal doctor, who knows your medical history best, should discuss the risks and benefits of rabies vaccine for you. If you decide the risks outweigh the benefits, a medical statement from your doctor expressing that fact can serve as the documentation of a contraindication to vaccination. When you are asked to sign the document certifying you are vaccinated, you can simply attach the statement from your doctor showing a medical contraindication.

The College of Veterinary Medicine expects that you will be honest and professional about these requirements. We are only interested in helping you minimize your risk of harm during and after your training. 

Purdue University requirements for enrollment do require you to provide actual dates of immunization against measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal combination and meningococcal B vaccines, and tetanus. You will save time if you bring those dates of immunization with you to orientation. 

Tetanus boosters are given every 5-10 years. It is a good idea to try to find out exactly when you received your last booster in case you should have an injury, such as a dog bite. There is no medical contraindication to receiving another tetanus booster sooner than 5 years after the last immunization. If you are not sure when your last shot was, it may be best to proceed with tetanus immunization now. Purdue University will require you to provide a date of your last shot, or get an updated tetanus immunization.

Both Td (tetanus-diphtheria) and TdaP (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) immunizations are acceptable. 

Getting a yearly flu vaccine is the best protection again the typical human influenza viruses that circulate in the winter and early spring. In addition, it can potentially help protect against dual infection with a human and zoonotic influenza virus that could results in a new strain of influenza. Flu vaccination also helps prevent the spread of flu from humans to their animal companions and patients. COVID vaccination became available in 2021, and we strongly recommend you complete the COVID vaccination series as well.

The cost of the immunizations administered through Purdue University Pharmacy (PUP) will be billed directly to you (or your insurance company) by PUP. You will be expected to pay these bills in a timely manner, but not necessarily at the time of the vaccination. While the cost of the vaccinations was included in the calculations for your financial aid package, emergency loan funds are available for students who need help in meeting the immunization requirements.

Purdue University offers student health insurance. The student health insurance covers vaccinations and testing with PUP as the preferred provider, and often for veterinary students the cost of the premium is about equal to the cost of rabies vaccination. Find out more about Purdue student health insurance at

During the course of your veterinary training and practice you are at risk for exposure to Mycobacterium bovis (a mycobacterium that causes bovine tuberculosis, which is transmissible to humans). In a case of possible exposure, you would need skin testing to determine if the disease was transmitted to you. Knowing that your TB test is negative at baseline makes it more likely that a positive test after exposure represents true disease.  

The College of Veterinary Medicine requires only a one-step TB skin test, not the two-step as is sometimes used in other human medical settings.  The interferon-based blood test (Quantiferon Gold or T Spot test) are acceptable alternatives to the TB skin test.  

The next step in this case is to see a medical clinician and discuss your results and medical history. The clinician may recommend additional testing. You will need a letter of medical clearance to pursue veterinary studies from that doctor to continue your education. In most cases of low risk students, a positive or indeterminate TB test result may indicate latent tuberculosis. Latent tuberculosis is not contagious and would not limit your ability to continue your education. Medical treatment is available to rid your body of the mycobacterium. If you have evidence of active tuberculosis (cough, bloody sputum, fever, weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, or abnormal chest x-ray findings), your physician would recommend medical treatment which may delay your education. Active tuberculosis is contagious to others and should be treated urgently.   

Brucellosis, leptospirosis, B virus (a herpes virus infection transmitted from macaques), avian influenza, methicillin-resistant staph aureus, influenza A from swine, psittacosis (lung infection caused by chlamydia species transmitted from birds), and hookworms and ascarids are all examples of infections which can be transmitted to humans from animals.

Exposure to anesthetic gases may increase the risk for miscarriage. Pregnancy reduces cell mediated immunity and can increase susceptibility to infectious diseases such as toxoplasmosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, brucellosis, listeriosis, and psittacosis.  Vertical transmission of some of these infections can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, or congenital anomalies. Avoiding exposure to unvaccinated, feral, and parturient (in labor to give birth) animals, and avoiding contact with young animals born apparently dead, can help decrease the risk of zoonotic infection in pregnant students and veterinarians. 

A full discussion of safety procedures can be found in the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Veterinary Infection Control Committee Report of 2015 available at 

The College of Veterinary Medicine is committed to supporting pregnant students in their academic careers. When pregnancy is identified, students are invited and encouraged to discuss needs for scheduling adjustments with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education.

The College of Veterinary Medicine is committed to supporting pregnant students in their academic careers. When pregnancy is identified, students are invited and encouraged to discuss needs for scheduling adjustments with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education. 

Certain human diseases and treatments, such as HIV treatment,cancer chemotherapy, or infusions for autoimmune or rheumatic diseases can cause immune compromise which may put you at higher risk for zoonotic infections. If you are immune compromised, you are also at higher risk for more severe infection and complications from zoonotic infections. Processing lab samples and caring for high-risk animals puts you at increased risk for zoonotic infections.  Additionally, immune compromise can impair your body’s ability to respond to rabies vaccination, making rabies vaccination less effective. You are encouraged to discuss your specific medical case with your personal physician to assess your risks. 

The College of Veterinary Medicine is committed to your academic success, so you are also invited to discuss any academic concerns you may have related to immune deficiency with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education.

The health requirements policy, entitled “Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine Student Health Policy”, can be obtained from the Office of Student Services or accessed online at the
student handbook webpage.

Purdue University requires up to date immunizations against measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal combination and meningococcal B vaccines, and tetanus/diphtheria. Tuberculosis testing is also required for international students. You can access the guidelines at

You can discuss personal health risks of veterinary education with your personal doctor. You can also contact Julianne Stout MD, Student Health Policy Coordinator for more information. The best method is email at or contact her through the PVM Office of Student Services.