Rabies for Animal Healthcare Providers

These documents are meant to provide quick reference for animal healthcare providers in regard to common rabies exposure issues. More detail about rabies and rabies exposures can be found in the Virginia Guidelines for Rabies Prevention and Control. In addition, further information can be obtained from your local health department. A directory of local health departments can be found at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts.

Rabies Clinics in Virginia

Rabies vaccination clinics may be offered outside of a registered veterinary establishment if the requirements found in § 3.2-6521 of the Code of Virginia are met which includes approval by the appropriate local health department and governing body.  More about what veterinarians in Virginia should know about rabies clinics can be found in the guidance document 150-12 “Administration of rabies vaccinations, revised December 16, 2016” available on the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine’s Guidance Documents page at https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/vet/vet_guidelines.htm. While rabies clinics held in a licensed veterinary facility do not require local government approval, veterinarians who offer low cost rabies vaccinations through their hospitals on a routine or periodic basis are encouraged to contact their local health department to share the details of this service.  Questions about rabies clinics in your community should be directed to your local health department.  A directory of local health departments is available at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts.

Rabies Regulations and Exemptions

Virginia’s rabies regulations can be found at http://law.lis.virginia.gov/admincode/title12/agency5/chapter105. These regulations, in part, provide for an exemption to rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats “if a vaccination would likely endanger the animal’s life due to a previously diagnosed disease or other previously documented medical considerations as documented by a licensed veterinarian.” A guidance document has been developed to assist veterinarians with the process of rabies vaccine exemptions which discusses the language of the law associated with exemptions and examples of certain conditions for which an exemption may be appropriate. A standard application form has also been developed for this process. Veterinarians interested in applying for an exemption should discuss the process by which they can apply with their local health departments. Veterinarians are also encouraged to contact their local health departments to report exposures or if they have questions about any of the regulatory language. A directory of local health departments can be found at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts.