Like every responsible pet owner, you want your bunnies to live a happy, healthy life, so you must have them vaccinated against Myxomatosis and two strains of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD).
You will need to give your rabbits two vaccines every year to protect them. The most common are Nobivac (protect against Myxi and RVHD1) and Filivac (protect against RVHD1 &2)
Vaccination is the most important of a package of measures you should take to protect your rabbits. Rabbits can be vaccinated from five weeks of age. Boosters are needed every year.
Myxomatosis Vaccination cannot guarantee absolute protection: vaccinated rabbits do occasionally catch Myxomatosis. However, in vaccinated rabbits, the disease is usually milder, sometimes just a single skin lesion, or a short, fairly minor illness. These infected rabbits need to be treated by a rabbit friendly vet who will report the infection to the vaccine manufacturers. Vaccinated rabbits with Myxi usually survive, whereas unvaccinated rabbits nearly always die.
Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD)
There are two strains of RVHD, known as RVHD1 and RVHD2.
Vaccination is very effective. Your rabbits can currently be protected by injection anytime from five weeks of age, then a booster every 12 months.
If you are about to obtain a young rabbit that hasn’t yet been vaccinated:
- Follow the advice given in the Myxomatosis section
- Don’t use second-hand hutches or equipment without finding out what the previous occupant died from.
Different vaccines are needed to prevent these diseases – they must be given at different times.
I’m thinking of having my rabbit vaccinated, but there’s no RVHD or Myxomatosis in the area. Is vaccination really necessary?
We would still recommend vaccination:
- It’s impossible to predict when and where diseases will strike.
- If you wait for a local outbreak of RVHD or Myxomatosis your rabbit might be the first to die.
- Many boarding establishments and insurance policies require rabbits to have up-to-date vaccinations.
My rabbit has chronic health problems. Can it still be vaccinated?
You need to discuss this with your vet. In general, vaccines should only be given to healthy animals, whose immune system can respond properly to the vaccine. However, if your rabbit’s condition is stable, it may be possible to vaccinate.
Can my rabbit be neutered and vaccinated at the same time?
Vaccinations are recommended as soon as possible after five weeks old. Vaccinations should not wait until the same time as neutering as that leaves a window of risk when the rabbits aren’t protected. Carrying out vaccinations at the same time as neutering also carries risks, both to the rabbit’s health and to the efficacy of the vaccine.
Do RVHD and Myxomatosis vaccinations have side effects?
Like all drugs, vaccines can have side effects, although problems in rabbits are very unusual. Skin reactions are sometimes reported at the site of injection (especially with some brands of older RVHD vaccine), and some rabbits are quiet for a day or two after vaccination. Although this is not desirable, it’s a whole lot better than death from a preventable disease.
If your rabbit has had Myxomatosis in the year leading up to vaccination this can affect how vaccines work, so consult your vet about your rabbit’s vaccinations.
Up to date advice on vaccinating against both strains of RVHD can be found on our RHVD page.