Decisive, large-scale action is the only way to eliminate a disease like rabies. It's how we started in 2013, by vaccinating over 60,000 dogs in a single month in India, and it's how we've vaccinated over 1.4 million to date across rabies hotspots in Africa and Asia.
Year on year, the number of vaccinations we administer in at-risk communities grows, and with it the vaccination coverage and the number of people we can protect against rabies.
At the start of 2021, we returned to Tanzania to deliver our sixth annual vaccination campaign. With the support of our charity partner Mbwa Wa Africa and the assistance from local and international volunteers, we vaccinated 7,703 dogs and 1,229 cats – in just 12 days. Even with the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, we worked in a COVID-secure way to reach more than 300 dogs than the year prior.
How did we do it? We used two methods. We set up vaccination clinics in pre-advertised central locations, allowing pet owners to come to us. We also used vehicles as mobile clinics to access animals in more remote areas and to ensure we reached all those who could not make it to the clinics.
To get started, we separated into eight field teams, made up of 3 to 4 staff members and volunteers. Whilst some teams managed the stationary clinics and waited for animals to come to them, the others roamed the working areas strategically, using our App to guide them and collect data on the animals vaccinated.
Our hard-working teams worked systemically for 12 days, eventually vaccinating 5,304 dogs at the static point clinics and 2,399 at roaming clinics using the vehicles. They also managed to vaccinate 1,229 cats across the entire working area, bringing the total to 8,932. A tremendous effort in an extremely challenging time.
But our work wasn't finished yet. We had to conduct our post-vaccination surveys to assess the percentage of the dog population vaccinated. To do this, we sent five surveyors to the working areas after they were completed. The surveyors followed a designated path through these areas and asked every fourth house if they would take part in the survey. This survey asked if people owned dogs and if they were vaccinated. If they were not vaccinated, we also asked why they did not vaccinate their dog.
Many of our working areas achieved over 70% vaccination coverage – the percentage needed to develop herd immunity and stop rabies in its tracks. For the areas that had lower vaccination coverage, we went back to vaccinate more dogs before, where possible, re-surveying the area. Through this determined approach, the total average vaccination coverage achieved by our teams across all working areas was 75%.
With government permission and whilst following strict WHO guidelines, we've continued the fight against rabies through the pandemic. You can join us. Donate, fundraise or volunteer today, and be part of our life-saving mission.