Thursday, August 28, 2008
By Jennifer Connic
Westport-Weston Health District officials are urging area residents to use caution around wild animals because there is a limited supply of rabies vaccine.
Westport-Weston Health District Director Sue Jacozzi said one facility that provides the two vaccines—one that is given before exposure to rabies and one given after exposure—closed to move to a new facility, which has yet to open.
Because of the move, there is less vaccine being generated, she said, and it remains unclear when the new facility will open although it could be within the next six months. It does not affect rabies vaccine for pets, she said.
The limited supply means local health officials need to get permission from the state Department of Health before administering a vaccination, Jacozzi said.
“Anybody who is going somewhere where a vaccine is required or has been bitten by an animal, we will need to get approval,” she said. “We have to show that there is a need.”
There is the possibility of a delay in getting the vaccine whether it’s in processing an approval or state officials denying a request, she said, but that has yet to happen.
The district administers the vaccine to those who are traveling, Jacozzi said, and officials refer people bitten by animals to the hospital.
It’s not clear what the demand is at the hospitals, she said, but in Westport there is not a high demand for the pre-exposure vaccine.
In order to prevent rabies, Jacozzi said, people should take care around animals, most specifically animals they don’t know and wildlife.
It’s also important to make sure pets are vaccinated against rabies, she said.
Posted 08/28/08 at 08:02 PM Permalink