Rhode Island changes rabies vaccine distribution rules

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Aug 22, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
Providence, R.I. — Rhode Island animal owners may now obtain rabies vaccination directly from the Department of Environmental Management—which has sole authority over animal vaccines—rather than through a veterinarian.

Many states permit the distribution of rabies vaccinations directly to animal owners, according to the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association (RIVMA). Rhode Island was not one of those states. About two years ago, Rhode Island State Veterinarian Scott Marshall began looking into a policy change that might make rabies vaccination more affordable for livestock, RIVMA says. Hiring a veterinarian to vaccinate large herds is cost-prohibitive and left cattle unvaccinated, RIVMA adds.

The goal of the change is to lower the health risk of rabies, and so Marshall, along with the RIVMA, crafted new rules to allow animal owners access to rabies vaccines outside of traditional veterinary channels. Regulations require the person administering the vaccination be under direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Non-veterinarians can’t vaccinate their own dogs, cats or ferrets, according to RIVMA.