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Canine Vaccine Hesitancy?? You Betcha

Hey Tracker gang! So I heard the darndest thing at the dog park the other day. Apparently, there’s this new concept called “canine vaccine hesitancy”. Recently, the Boston University School of Public Health published a study which found that “53% of U.S. dog owners surveyed question whether the rabies vaccine is safe, whether it works, or whether it's useful”, as reported by Pien Huang for NPR (2023). Talk about ruff!  

Let’s go over some facts about rabies: 

  • Rabies is a virus transmitted from saliva via bites, deep scratches, or direct contact with mucosa or wounds by affected animals and people. The virus attacks the central nervous system, causing inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (WHO, 2023). 

  • Rabies is virtually 100% fatal if it advances to the point where symptoms appear (WHO, 2023).  

  • Serious side effects to the vaccine in dogs are extremely rare. The rate of severe adverse reactions per year is ~2.4 per 1,000,000 vaccinated (Moore et al., 2005). 

  • The rabies vaccine prevents nearly 300 dogs from getting infected with rabies per year and in addition, prevent more than 100 human deaths; saving more than $3 million in treatment costs (Huang, 2023). 

The rabies vaccine allows pups like me to live and play safely with others, but also keeps humans safe!  And did you know, rabies elimination is feasible and achievable! Know your facts, keep your canine (and you!) up to date on vaccines, and spread the knowledge. 


Don’t hesitate to vaccinate! 



Huang, Pien. (2023). ‘Vaccine hesitancy affects dog-owners, too, with many questioning the rabies shot’. NPR. Retrieved from 

Moore, G. E., Guptill, L. F., Ward, M. P., Glickman, N. W., Faunt, K. K., Lewis, H. B., & Glickman, L. T. (2005). Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 227(7), 1102-1108. Retrieved Dec 14, 2023, from 

Motta, M., Motta, G., & Stecula, D. (2023). Sick as a dog? The prevalence, politicization, and health policy consequences of canine vaccine hesitancy (CVH). Vaccine, 41(41), 5946–5950. Retrieved from 

World Health Organization (WHO). (2023). Rabies – Fact Sheet. 


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