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Setting Up the Vaccination Clinics

Clinician's Brief

May 2016

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Setting Up the Vaccination Clinics

Day 1: Namitete Secondary School

The alarm woke us at 4:20 AM, and from there it was a quick scramble through breakfast before we loaded up the buses and headed for the Blantyre SPCA to assemble our 8 teams. Each team was assigned a location to set up a vaccination clinic. Chris and I were assigned to the Elephant team, while Chelsea joined the Leopard team.

Jessie preparing for the vaccination process.

Clinician's Brief

The Elephant group’s clinic location for the day was the Namitete Secondary School, in Lilongwe. When we arrived at the school, there was an enormous crowd waiting. They cheered as we pulled in, and if you looked back, you could see the children chasing after us. By 8 AM, we had the clinic set up and we spent the next 8 hours doing what we came here to do: vaccinating dogs and cats against rabies.

The children hung out and watched us all day. They were adorable and very playful, occasionally leaning over to tug on my hair and giggle, and were more than willing to pose for pictures with us.

The vaccination process was efficient, with clear roles for each team member. We split our team into 2 groups, each with a vaccinator, data collector, animal handler, and animal marker. By the end of the day, almost all of us tried our hand at each role. 

A child with a vaccinated puppy. Dogs are marked so the team knows they've been vaccinated. 

Clinician's Brief

At the end of the day, we were able to spend some time with the children. One child showed off an uncanny impression of a rooster call that received resounding applause from the rest of us. 

Tomorrow, we start round 2 of vaccination clinic. Starting Monday, the teams take to the streets, going door-to-door offering vaccinations. This has been an incredible experience, and it’s only the first day. 

Day 2

Today, the Elephant group set up for vaccination clinic in a new location. The morning was busy, with a flood of dogs and cats to vaccinate. In the afternoon, we had a chance to experience the local culture and spend time with the children. They get excited about everything we give them, from bottle caps to pens. We also made balloons out of surgical gloves, set up hopscotch with leaves, and read to them from the Mission Rabies education brochure. They loved being read to.

Jessie experimenting with sugar cane. 

Clinician's Brief

Frederic Lohr (international liaison and publicity officer for Mission Rabies) brought some raw sugar cane. I learned how to eat sugar cane—peel the outer layer (stem) with my teeth and then suck on the sugar cane. Delicious.

Tomorrow, we walk door-to-door, offering vaccinations. The Elephant group will split up into groups of 3, and we expect to cover between 10 and 15 miles each.

So far, I feel great, and am having an amazing time (as long as I remember to wear sunscreen).—Jessie Foley

JESSIE FOLEY has a degree in veterinary technology from Cedar Valley College, as well as a degree in advertising and public relations from University of Arkansas. For the past 2 years, she has been production editor for Brief Media. She was previously on the veterinary nurse team at University of Tennessee Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Foley led Brief Media's efforts to build a team of volunteers for the Mission Rabies Mega Vaccine Drive in Malawi, Africa, and has joined the team in Africa. 

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