Everyone around the world is witnessing the effectiveness of vaccines in preserving precious lives. The swift development and remarkable efficacy of the three COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J—administered in the United States today is a stellar example of the power and prowess of modern medicine.
Soon we will be able to come out of lockdown and travel again. But to keep everyone safe, a type of “passport” may be required, showing your status as a vaccinated person. For example, New York State has initiated an Excelsior Pass program designed to facilitate travel and event attendance after residents have received one of the aforementioned vaccines.
A few other states are also considering similar “passport” measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Whatever the outcome of such passport schemes, the success of these vaccines warrants a quick look back in time to appreciate the origin story of this life-saving invention.
Vaccination: How We Got Here
The inception of vaccines can be traced way back, even before its well-document use by Edward Jenner for smallpox in 1796. The Chinese are believed to have explored inoculations as far back as 1000 CE! Much later, the rabies vaccine developed by Louis Pasteur in 1885 played an integral role in the subsequent progression of disease prevention in humans.
Crafting a safe and effective injectable serum for humans entails time-consuming research and clinical trials. Over time, the process has been accelerated and refined.
mRNA: A New Approach
Two of the current COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured using a novel approach called mRNA. In the past, an inactive or weakened germ was introduced into the body to trigger an immune response. By contrast, scientists configured the mRNA vaccine to “teach” the body to make a harmless spike protein—nearly identical to the characteristic spikes on the surface of the COVID-19 virus—to evoke an immune response that produces protective antibodies. Henceforth, whenever the body is exposed to an actual viral intruder with those spikes, in most people it triggers an immediate and successful immune response.
In the future, this mRNA vaccine technology could perhaps facilitate the manufacture of a single jab as an all-inclusive defense against a host of diseases. And even further down the road, the same can be said for the inoculations we give our pets.
Meantime—Mind Your Pet’s Rabies Inoculation Tags
The pandemic has injected talk about lockdowns, quarantines, and vaccines into dinner table conversations across the world. As we enjoy our Chicken Tikka Masala or Chicken Marsala—depending on one’s location and palate—with increased gratitude, let us remember our furry friends hiding under the dinner table. Perhaps those dogs and cats were your only companions during the lockdowns. They depend on you to care for them. They, too, need to be immunized, especially against a deadly, zoonotic, vaccine-preventable viral disease—rabies.
Unfortunately, the rabies vaccine is not universally mandated in the United States. A few states do not require an owner to vaccinate their pet for rabies, instead delegating the decision to the local governments. In addition, there are some states that may only require dogs to be vaccinated and not cats.
Animals that contract rabies die painful deaths that involve paralysis and respiratory failure. When the disease is transmitted to humans through saliva—most often through a bite—from an infected animal, it causes inflammation of the brain. The condition is virtually always fatal to humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), fewer than 20 cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been documented to date.
In the early days of the rabies vaccine, the only recourse in the face of exposure to the virus from a stray dog or other rabid animal was a series of painful and expensive injections in the abdomen. While vaccines continue to improve even in developing countries, rabies remains a threat to humans. According to the World Health Organization, over 29 million people worldwide receive a vaccination after being bitten by an animal. However, the curative power of the injected medication kicks in only if administered before the virus has reached the brain. But since the rabies virus has a long incubation period, infected individuals do not always know that they have contracted the illness.
That is why prevention is the preferable course of treatment. Veterinarians across the United States offer affordable rabies vaccines that cost only $10–$20. The immunity then lasts for a specific period of time, with booster shots given afterward (every year in some states, every three years in others). It is vital for the health of your pet and everyone around to keep up to date with all immunizations.
The Last Step: Affix Your Pet’s Rabies Tag
Once your dog or cat has been vaccinated, it doesn’t look any different from the way it looked before. And since animals can’t talk, they can’t tell anyone they received the rabies vaccine. That is why it is essential to get a rabies tag for your pet and affix it to its collar. The tag lets everyone know, at a glance, that your pet is safe and not a health hazard to people or other animals.
At Ketchum Mfg. Co., we carry rabies tags manufactured locally in upstate New York. Our rabies tags are crafted from aluminum, brass, or stainless steel for quality and durability. You can choose from an array of rabies tags in different colors and materials to match your style and your pet’s personality:
- Blue aluminum
- Plain aluminum
- Stainless steel
While not mandated by law, by convention the “design” of rabies tags changes from year to year. For 2021, the shape of choice is a rosette. (In 2020 it was a heart shape; in 2019, a bell shape; and in 2018, an oval shape.)
As alluded to above, there has been much talk about a “COVID-19 passport” that would let people know you are fully vaccinated. Its intent is to reassure shop owners and fellow travelers that you do not pose a danger to them, even in enclosed spaces. The aforementioned Excelsior Pass in New York is a free, voluntary platform that documents an individual’s recent negative PCR or antigen test result and serves as proof of vaccination.
In essence, then, a rabies tag serves as a pet passport of sorts.