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Only Four Shots Needed for Rabies Protection

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People exposed to a rabid animal need only four vaccinations, not the five currently recommended, a U.S. immunization advisory group has decided.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday that four shots given within the first 14 days of exposure to rabies provides sufficient protection, the Associated Press reported.

Each year, between 20,000 and 40,000 Americans are in contact with a rabid animal. About 1,000 get just three or four shots and none have come down with rabies, which was a factor in the committee's decision, the AP said.

The committee advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which prepares official guidelines for doctors.

Until the 1970s, people had to have 14 shots in the abdomen after exposure to rabies, but improved vaccines led the government to ease that requirement.

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