5.4.6. How do we plan the vaccination campaign on the ground?

What are the vaccination goals? Prior to planning your vaccination campaign it is important to define the goals of the vaccination program. Rabies control programs (focused on reducing human burden, but not elimination) are often carried out in response to a rabies outbreak or reported human case. Rabies elimination programs (focused on sustained vaccination over multiple years at high levels) are carried out in more advanced programs to eliminate the disease from an area.

Achieving a vaccination coverage of greater than 70%, annually, for multiple successive years will halt transmission of rabies in 95% of situations (see this study). For this reason a target of 70% vaccination is recommended for recurrent annual vaccination campaigns to ensure elimination is reached (See the WHO Expert report). However, the coverage required may be lower than 70% in zones where there is a low risk of rabies transmission, for example where most dogs are restricted in their movements. An important factor is that vaccination coverage should reach 70% in all zones where there is a high risk of transmission, and not just on average across a large area. Pockets of low vaccination coverage in high risk zones can allow rabies transmission to persist.

Who is responsible for canine rabies vaccination? Once the goal of vaccination has been developed it is important to identify who will be responsible for carrying out the campaign. Responsibility is likely to vary between countries, but is likely to belong to a Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, or perhaps a Non-Governmental Organization. Identifying the responsible authority will have a great influence on obtaining permission, and on the personnel, logistics and equipment available. Further guidance on Roles and Responsibilities is provided in Section 2.

Where and when will you vaccinate? The vaccination campaign may cover an entire country or perhaps just a portion of the country. Campaigns should always consider the risk of re-introduction of rabies from surrounding communities. Geographic barriers such as rivers or mountains may help prevent movement of dogs into a rabies vaccination zone. However, if borders are porous then rabies imported through dog movement should be considered when selecting vaccination zones.

Campaigns should be conducted in a short period of time (<3 months) to ensure that the vaccination rate in dogs does not drop below critical numbers. The time of the year, day of the week and time of the day for vaccinations should be considered to maximise participation.

What method(s) and strategies of vaccination are appropriate? Choosing the most appropriate vaccination strategy to stop rabies transmission needs careful consideration of the local situation. What is the dog population structure, and will the method of vaccination reach dogs involved in the enzootic transmission cycle? Will enough dogs be accessed if owners are required to bring dogs for vaccination or is a door-to-door approach more suitable? Who is expected to bring dogs for vaccination?

Ethical Considerations. Any intervention involving animals should be conducted ethically, to maximise benefits and minimise risks to individual animals, to avoid compromises to animal welfare and to support its acceptance by animal owners and the broader community. Resources that can help you work through the ethical considerations of a planned vaccination campaign can be found here.

Will dog catching teams be needed? These questions should be addressed by people with local knowledge such as the village leaders, village animal health workers or others with an interest in supporting rabies control efforts. See section 5.4.5 for more information on choosing the best methods and strategies for vaccination campaigns.

Once the best method and strategy has been decided on, vaccination team members, accompanied by village leaders, should then visit the selected area in order to plan the campaigns on the ground. The proposed area should be carefully mapped and broken into daily work blocks and further into sub-team blocks, allocating teams to certain areas. It might be useful to conduct smaller-scale campaigns first (e.g., pilot projects) to gain experience and subsequently expand to cover larger areas. Logistics should be planned carefully and time allowed for purchase of equipment and preparation.

The Community Coordinator Certificate (CCC) course of the GARC education platform has been designed to enable interested people to become actively involved in the protection of their community against rabies, and support the planning and execution of vaccination campaigns.

Further practical information related to Infrastructure, legislative framework, costs and funding relevant to planning larger scale vaccination campaigns are provided in Sections 3.1 to 3.3 Information on who may need to be trained is provided in Section 5.3 and on what may need to be bought is provided in Section 5.2

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Version 4 - last updated May 2017