2/15/19 Position Statement of The Rabies Challenge Fund 

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Ever since its founding in 2006, The Rabies Challenge Fund’s cornerstone position has been that rabies laws/regulations should be based upon scientific data – specifically data meeting the Code of Federal Regulations (9 CFR 113.209) standard for rabies vaccine licensing.

In order to protect animal and public health, we assert that animals should only be vaccinated against rabies as often as necessary to confer/maintain immunity and to avoid any unnecessary risk of vaccinal adverse reactions.  It is also The Rabies Challenge Fund’s position that antibody testing by a federal or state approved lab is an important measure to assure protection against rabies. Until adequate data exists supporting a specific antibody threshold at which animals are demonstrated to be immune to rabies challenge, we believe it is premature for state rabies laws/regulations to allow for titers in lieu of vaccination.

The Rabies Challenge Fund further contends that all states should have medical exemption clauses in their rabies laws/regulations allowing veterinarians to write waivers of rabies vaccinations for animals they have determined within the framework of a current client-patient relationship to be too ill or had a documented prior serious adverse reaction to the rabies vaccine.

The current standard of care according to state laws/regulations and The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians’ Rabies Compendium dictates that full doses of rabies vaccine are administered to an animal per the manufacturer’s labeled instructions. The Rabies Challenge Fund does not support the practice of administering reduced rabies vaccine doses. There are no published, peer-reviewed data meeting 9 CFR 113.209 which confirm immunity to rabies in animals vaccinated with reduced dosages.

Adhering to our principle tenet that rabies laws/regulations should be based upon the same scientific standard that rabies vaccine manufacturers are held to, we will continue to support or promote legislation protecting animals from redundant/medically unsound rabies vaccination. We will actively oppose rabies legislation which does not meet the same standard.

The Rabies Challenge Fund has actively engaged in legislation to protect animals from being overvaccinated against rabies. Our efforts have resulted in substantial changes to rabies laws, and while some local municipalities continue to require annual and biennial boosters, all 50 states now recognize and allow animals to be immunized with a 3 year vaccine.

Arguing that state rabies laws/local ordinances should be based upon science, The Rabies Challenge Fund’s legislative action helped to change annual and biennial booster mandates to the 3 year national standard in Bell County, Texas; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Wichita, Kansas; Killeen, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; and the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

In addition, efforts by The Rabies Challenge Fund led to passage of legislation inserting medical exemption clauses into rabies laws/regulations in the states of Alabama, California, Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Rabies Challenge Fund has actively promoted medical exemption legislation which failed to pass in the states of Missouri, New Mexico, Georgia, and Iowa.

We vigorously opposed bills in the states of California, Maine, and Michigan lowering the age at which puppies are required to be vaccinated against rabies.

In 2012, The Rabies Challenge Fund successfully advocated for passage of legislation in Delaware which prevented veterinarians from issuing 1 or 2 year rabies certificates when a 3 year vaccine is administered.

We actively worked to ensure that Minnesota veterinarians administering a 3 year rabies vaccine be required to issue a 3 year certificate. This resulted in the state issuing a Rabies Vaccination Guidance Document: https://mn.gov/boards/assets/RabiesVaccinationGuidanceDocument_tcm21-26916.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2tohhJsL9Sn9VYekvt8wkOl3ZdlgtCs-v6smE9H3ydE-enTZobs9ZsGlM  .

In summary, The Rabies Challenge Fund has made significant advances in the effort to decrease risk of adverse reactions to rabies vaccination for pets across a large portion of the United States. We will continue to work for legislative changes that can be solidly supported by scientific findings, and actively oppose such proposals not supported by currently available science.