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Question about rabies pre-exposure vaccinations

Hello Students and Families,

I am writing to respond to a frequently asked question about whether or not students should get rabies pre-exposure vaccinations.

To start, I want to note that because Dragons is not a medical institution, we do not give recommendations for vaccinations. In general, we suggest that you speak with your physician or a travel doctor about recommendations. If you have not already, you can read about the risks of rabies in Morocco on the Center for Disease Control website HERE. As you can see they recommend vaccination for those who will be involved in outdoor activities, such as the hiking and camping that students will do during the program. 

Families often ask us how they should go about deciding if they should get the rabies pre-exposure vaccinations. This is a hard question to answer because the decision is a personal one. We have students who both choose to get the pre-exposure vaccinations and those who chose not to, and there is not a clear trend one way or the other. A couple of points that may be helpful for you to consider when speaking to your doctor and making this decision are: 

  • If a student who has not received the pre-exposure vaccinations comes in contact with a potentially infected animal, in addition to vaccinations, the student would also need to be administered human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG). This is not a step that the CDC says is needed if someone has pre-exposure vaccinations. Morocco, as in many places, only had HRIG available in one city – Casablanca in the case of Morocco. This is to say, that exposure to rabies in Morocco can then necessitate travel to Casablanca (which could be some distance from the group and would require 1-2 days of travel) in order to receive a dosage of HRIG.
  • A useful mantra when considering any pre-course vaccinations for Dragons courses is: peace of mind is important when considering which vaccinations to get. Anxiety can be debilitating and take away from the participant’s experience on course, so we encourage all students to make an inoculation plan with his/her travel doctor that provides both a physical and emotional safety net for the participant.

I hope this information is helpful in your conversations. Please feel free to reach out to us with further questions.

Cara Lane-Toomey

Middle East & Africa Program Director