Rabbit Vaccination – Myxomatosis, RHD and RHD2

Rabbit vaccinations
Written by Editorial

Which vaccinations do rabbits need and how much do they cost? Do indoor rabbit need vaccinations or are they only for outdoor ones? What about possible vaccination side effects?

Do rabbits need vaccination?

Yes. Both indoor and outdoor rabbits need vaccination against two highly contagious viral diseases, myxomatosis and rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease (both RVHD  and RVHD2). The RVHD2 is a recent strain of the viral hemorrhagic disease which is resistant to the old RVHD vaccine.

To avoid confusion, RVHD, RVHD1, VHD, RHD both mean the old variant while the new variant will have signified by the same initials with a ‘2’ at the end. The disease is also known as RCD (rabbit calicivirus disease)

Rabbit vaccinations
Rabbit vaccinations

These vaccines are highly recommended or a requirement in countries that are prone to epidemics caused by these two lethal viruses that have a high mortality rate on infected rabbits.

However, they are not available in all countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, among other nations. The Center for Food Security and Public Health has a list of countries where these vaccines have been approved as well as the specific brands used.

Which rabbit can be vaccinated?

Vaccines are recommended to healthy rabbits at recommended ages (depends on the specific brand used). However, your vet may recommend them to any animal he or she deems fit, especially if it is stable.

Whereas there is no conclusive research on the effect immunization on pregnancy, we do not recommend it since it can cause unnecessary stress. Also, avoid neutering or spaying your rabbit and immunizing them at the same time. Immunization can be done early.

Common vaccine brands

Common brands include Lupimun Gemix, Pestorin Mormyx, Pestorin, Dercumimix, RabbiShot® VHD Plus, Lapinject® VHD, MM-Vac, Filavac VHD K C+V, Cunipravac® RHD, Eravac®, Nobivac Myxo-RHD, Novarvilap, Arvilap, Castomix, Hemovirovac, among many others.

Each of these and many others we did not list have areas where they have been authorized. Therefore, the specific one you get will depend on your location.

Finally, these vaccines may have killed (inactivated) or live attenuated (weakened) viruses and they may require an adjuvant such as aluminum hydroxide, oil, or not. Your vet will advise you accordingly.

Vaccines and rabbit vaccination side effects – the UK   

In the UK, rabbits are supposed to be vaccinated against  Myxomatosis and the Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease strain 1 and 2.

The initial vaccination should be for myxomatosis and RVHD ( which could be for RVHD1 or both RVHD1 and RVHD2).

For instance, in case you go for myxomatosis and RVHD1 combined vaccine, it often given to kits after they are at least 5 weeks of age. This should be followed by another RHVD2 vaccine after about two weeks (two weeks apart). Afterward, you will need a booster RHVD2 injection given between 6-12 months depending on the specific brand each year.

The most common ones in the UK are the “are Nobivac (protect against Myxi and RVHD1) and Filivac (protect against RVHD1 &2) or Eravac (protect against RVHD2).” [1].

Filavac for VHD1 and VHD2 vaccine

This is the most recommended one for rabbits which will protect them from both RHD and RHDV2 (both the two variant of this virus) and its immunity will last for up to 12 months. Therefore, you need a booster vaccination annually.

Filavac has two formulations. One for rabbit hemorrhagic disease 2 variant and another one for both RHD1 and VHD2 variants (Filavac VHD K C + V) which is most commonly used in the UK and Europe. [2]

Filavac should be administered to rabbits aged 10 weeks and it is indicated for only healthy rabbits [3]. It is available in single and multiple doses.

Since it does not protect these animals against myxomatosis, you still need a myxomatosis vaccine such as Nobivac. However, ensure you wait for at least two weeks after the Nobivac vaccine.

Side effects

Expected side effects include a small temperature rise that may be up to 1.6°C often a day after immunization and a small localized reaction on the injection site i.e., a nodule that can be up to 3mm in diameter may be noticed and be palpable for not less than 52 days from the day of injection.

No research has been conducted on the effect of this vaccine on pregnant bunnies.  

Eravac and side effects

The second common brand is Eravac which is designed for only rabbit hemorrhagic disease type 2 virus (RHDV2) and it is given once your kit is about 30 days old. Afterward, it can give your animal immunity for about 9 months. [4] This inactivated vaccine comes as an injectable emulsion.

Side effects of Eravac

Side effects include transient temperature rise, for two to three days and it should vanish after the 5th day without any treatment.

Swellings and nodules may be noted at the place of injection, common during the first 24 hours and will gradually vanish without any treatments.  

Nobivac® Myxo-RHD and side effects

Nobivac® Myxo-RHD vaccine “contains a live myxoma vector virus strain with an RHD virus capsid gene insert” [22] and it triggers an immune response to both the myxoma virus and RHD1 and not RHD2 virus meaning you will still need an RHD2 virus vaccine.   

This vaccine is indicated for rabbits aged 5 weeks onward and it is by subcutaneous injection and your pet requires only one dose. Immunity is expected after 3 weeks and it will last for a year.

Side effects

  • A small temperature increase by about 1-2°C
  • A small swelling on the injection site not more than 2cm in size and it should be not painful. It can last for up to two weeks and disappear after the third week.

It is recommended that you avoid it during the first 14 days of pregnancy. After this immunization, you should consider printing both the booster reminder cards and rabbit vaccination certificates online.

Rabbit vaccination cost and vaccines on sale

The average vaccination cost will depend on the service charge that your vet will charge you as well as the cost of the vaccines (specific brand).  Having gathered costs data from various centers, we can estimate the average cost of rabbit vaccination is £30-£70 (about $40 to $90) annually.

Requesting for rabbit vaccinations pets at home may cost more considering your location as opposed to taking it to a vet center or hospital. However, this cost may also be influenced by the number you want to be immunized. A larger number may make it cheaper.

There may be both the RHD and myxomatosis rabbit vaccines on sale. However, due to the required handling such as being refrigerated by some brands, we recommend you let your vet do the buying and handling.

Do rabbits need rabies shots?

Do rabbits need a rabies vaccination? No. They do not need it. Whereas there are vaccines for rabies in other household pets, the chances of these pets getting rabies rare. They do not require rabies shots and they are not currently available for these pets.


Besides immunization, you need to put in place the various preventive measures including deterring flies, mosquitos, fleas and other biting bugs that spread the infection.

Also, there should be regular disinfection with rabbit-safe disinfectants and avoid sharing beddings, feeding or watering bowls and bottles with infected ones.

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