Q. Should I take rabies vaccine now, as a dog bit me 24 years back?

Answered by
Dr. S D Sinha
and medically reviewed by Dr. Chithranjali Ravichandran
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 13, 2022

Hi doctor,

I need your suggestions. I remember a couple of occasions during my early childhood when a dog bit me. The first one was around 24 years back when a stray dog bit me. There was no visible wound or scratches on the bitten area. There was no bleeding during the incident. The second one was around 20 years back when our pet puppy dog, which was two years scratched my ear while playing with me. The puppy dog was fully vaccinated for anti-rabies and medications. Again the scratch did not result in any blood or open wound. And I had washed the bitten site instantly. I did not take the anti-rabies treatment back then. Could you let me know if I have to take rabies vaccination now after many years? I do not have any fever or symptoms, but these thoughts about the incidents just passed my mind. Please help.

Thank you.



Welcome to

Thank you for your query. Unless you have bitten, scratched, or bruised by a dog, rabies-unvaccinated, or your wound and bleeding has occurred recently, you need to worry and take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) of anti-rabies vaccination and immunoglobulins injections, as per approved dosage regimens. The incidents you have narrated are ancient and have no relevance today or present you with any risk of rabies. However, if you had any incident off late, it's best to start this PEP immediately. If so, let me know so that I can advise. However, in such a situation, it is best strategy to get this PEP at a local clinic or hospital immediately.

Thank you.

Hi doctor,

Thanks for your details. I do not have any recent incidents of a dog bite or any other animal bite. All my incidents took place nearly 20 years ago. I just wanted confirmation on my risk of getting rabies from these past incidents.

Thank you.



Welcome back to

I hope you have gotten the clarification. There is no risk with bites 20 years ago. However, you need to be careful and follow the treatment protocol by WHO and local government.

Basic including,

1. Extensive washing and local treatment of the bite wound or scratch as soon as possible after a suspected exposure;

2. Potent and effective rabies vaccine that meets WHO standards; and

3. Administration of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG), if indicated.

There are three categories

Category I - touching or feeding animals, animal licks on intact skin (no exposure) Intervention- Washing exposed skin surfaces, no PEP.

Category II - nibbling of uncovered skin, minor scratches, or abrasions without bleeding (exposure).

Category III - single or multiple transdermal bites or scratches, contamination of mucous membrane or broken skin with saliva from animal licks, exposures due to direct contact with bats (severe exposure).

Intervention- Wound washing, immediate vaccination, and administration of rabies immunoglobulin.

Essential is that not to delay the interventions mentioned above. Always get immediate medical attention physically, locally.

Also, please vaccinate your pet dog or cat, etc. from rabies, as well. This minimizes the incidence of rabies and its complication.

Thank you.

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