The rabies vaccine should be given in every case of suspected exposure to rabies. The length of your vaccination course will depend on whether you have previously been vaccinated. If you've never been vaccinated, you should receive five doses of the vaccine. The first dose is given at the beginning of the treatment, followed by four further doses, which are given three, seven, 14 and 30 days after the start of treatment. If you've previously been vaccinated, you should receive two doses of the vaccine. The first dose is given at the start of your treatment, followed by a second dose three to seven days later. The doses are given by injection into the shoulder muscle. A common side effect of the rabies vaccine is redness, swelling and pain at the injection site, which occurs 24 to 48 hours after the injection has been given.