Lyme Disease Vaccine (Intramuscular)

Lyme disease vaccines work by prompting the body to produce antibodies that fight the Lyme disease bacteria transmitted by ticks.


Lyme disease vaccine is no longer available. Manufacturing of the vaccine was discontinued in 2002 due to a lack of market demand. Initially, a three dose series was used to treat the condition and prevent reoccurrence. Because the medicine fades over time, the earlier vaccine protections have expired. The vaccine for humans may not exist today, but the Lyme disease bacterium is alive. Today oral antibiotics are used to combat the disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates diagnostic tests for safety and effectiveness. The tests help to determine if there are sufficient antibodies to fight the infection.

  • Timeframe for testing is 2 to 5 weeks after the bite occurs.
  • If you are bitten, contact your doctor immediately.

The bite is recognizable as a rash appearing 3 to 30 days after the bite. The most commonly known symptom is the bulls-eye rash. The rash starts to appear after exposure and grows substantially in size over several days.

It can cause a loss of muscle tone in the face known as Bell's palsy. Other symptoms are fever, joint and muscle pain with fatigue. Left untreated the symptoms worsen with additional indicators of severe headaches, heart palpitations and shooting pain.

  • Pediatrics: Testing is incomplete for children under 15 years of age.
  • Infants: This medicine is not recommended for use.
  • Pregnancy: Studies show a minimal risk to breastfeeding infants.

Conditions Treated

  • Lyme disease bacteria

Type Of Medicine

  • Immunizing agent

Side Effects

The severity of the effects varies as our body adjusts to the medication. There are situations where your own tolerance to medicine can trigger the effects and change the response to treatment. Family histories related to health conditions or certain medicines can cause side effects to happen at any time during or after treatment. Before you start treatment with this medicine, talk to the doctor.

These lists of effects are known to happen and categorized as most common, least common, and rare. There are instances where side effects get worse and persist beyond a week. There may be other effects not listed or unknown, be sure to tell the doctor.

Most Common

  • Back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

Least Common


  • Breathing problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Swelling eyelids

If you experience any unusual changes in your body functions - contact the doctor. DO NOT stop taking any of your medicines without talking to a doctor first. The doctor can help to prevent or ease an uncomfortable effect.

Adverse Effects

Lyme disease can be life threatening if left untreated. The infection can spread to the heart, the nervous system and the joints. Sometimes the symptoms appear weeks or months after the tick bite. If you live in an area known to have ticks you are more susceptible to bites. You need to take precautions when going outdoors. You also need to learn how to identify the bite as soon as possible.

Symptoms occurring during and after treatment were low in clinical studies. Late symptoms were rare in all of the population being vaccinated. Even after treatments, individuals continued to experience symptoms of Lyme disease. Because the diagnoses were made when the disease was further along and more developed these symptoms were referred to as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

The vaccination was not a cure for the infection. You need to talk with the doctor sooner rather than later.

  • Abnormal nervous system functions
  • Arthralgia: joint pain
  • Arthritis: inflammation and stiffness of the joint
  • Arthrosis: arthritis at the end of the bones
  • Facial paralysis
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Myalgia: pain in a specific group of muscles
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: chronic inflammation of the joints

There have been adverse reactions to this medicine in patients treated for chronic joint or neurologic illnesses. Reactions involved severe swelling of the joints related to an existing condition of rheumatoid arthritis.

In most cases, individuals on anticoagulant therapy or blood clotting disorders were not approved for this vaccine. In 2001, the FDA reviewed reports on safety concerns involving this vaccine and arthritis. The outcome proved the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the potential risks.


The Lyme disease vaccine is no longer available for humans in the United States. There were several precautions and concerns related to the vaccine's scheduling and the safety of patients. If an infected tick bites you, see your doctor at once. The doctor will prescribe an alternative medicine.

Individuals at high risk live or work in grassy or wooden areas where ticks are known to exist. If you are an outdoors enthusiast, there are precautions you need to take. Consider having a discussion with the doctor to learn more about recognizing and treating the bite.

The vaccine dose was administered in a series of three injections to the upper arm (deltoid) area. After the first dose, the second injection was given one month later, followed by the third dose one year after the first injection. Follow-up vaccines were scheduled one year after the second dose was administered and two years after the third dose. The injections were scheduled during the high transmission season, starting in April.


  • 30 micrograms (mcg) equivalent to 0.5 milliliters (mL)

Missed Dose

Medical professionals administer this vaccine. For the best results, it is necessary for the patients to keep the scheduled injections. Missing one or more of the injections may diminish the strength of the medicine to fight the infection.


The vaccine was used as a preventative against infection, but there were serious interactions for some individuals. For some patients, known allergies or existing health conditions prompted the interactions with this medicine.

Over 180 known drugs interacted with the Lyme disease vaccine.

  • 185 drugs out of 564 brand and generic named drugs had a moderate interaction.
  • 3 drugs out of 6 brand and generic names had minor interactions.

Other Interactions

Besides different medicines, food can trigger interactions. You should always read the vaccine's informational instructions and talk to the doctor if you have questions. Alcohol or tobacco may diffuse the medicine's effect and cause severe interactions with this medication. If you take over-the-counter medicines, they will affect your response to treatment. It's best not to take other medicines without talking with your doctor first.

Other Medical Problems

The vaccine was new to the medical industry and the clinical studies had insufficient data to show the individuals vaccinated were protected. It was also unclear at the time whether the booster doses were needed. Other concerns of certain populations and individuals with an existing health condition existed.

  • The vaccine could not be used in young children
  • Adults with known hypersensitivity should not be administered the vaccine.


The FDA routinely posts notices on medications and studies. The updated postings provide information to consumers and medical professionals about the risks and the benefits associated with the medicines. This vaccination in some health diagnoses carried concerns for the safety and the effectiveness of the vaccine.

During a panel discussion the FDA did review the potential of the vaccine and determined it did not protect against Lyme disease. The next concerns were that the vaccine could not be used for children younger than 15 years of age even though this segment of the population carried the highest risk for infection.


There have been no studies in pregnant women to show adverse effects. Precautions should always be taken when considering treatment if you are pregnant. If you become pregnant or you are trying to conceive, talk with the doctor first.


Studies in pregnant women report minimal risk to the infant based on the expected timeframe for the body to process the medication and eliminate it from the body.


Lyme disease vaccine was not tested in children younger than 15 years of age. It was not recommended for infants.


There is insufficient data on the effects of the Lyme disease vaccine in the elderly compared to other age groups. Precautions were recommended, since elderly patients suffer from heart disease, increasing risk of health complications.


Health care staff or professional care providers are responsible for storing this medicine (for intramuscular injections). In preparation for administering, it is stored at temperatures of 36 to 46 Fahrenheit.

  • DO NOT freeze this vaccine if freezing occurs, dispose of it.
  • Used medical supplies and unused portions are disposed of according to healthcare guidelines.


Medical practitioners are still treating Lyme disease infections. Today the vaccine is no longer available, so doctors are choosing to use antibiotics. The vaccine was discontinued due to the number of health concerns, warnings and unknown factors for using the medicine. If you are bitten, you need to see the doctor. If you live in a tick-borne location (geography), educate your children on how to prevent being bitten.