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Vaccinate, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

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Vaccinate, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

The second block of the Goa vaccination drive is now in full swing and my fellow volunteers and I have settled into a routine. The pre-dawn minutes are spent packing the coolers for the morning session, followed by just enough time for a coffee or chai tea before the trucks arrive to take us out into the field.

We usually put in about 3 hours of vaccinating before stopping for breakfast where we all crowd into a small, open-front restaurant and order whatever is being served that day—samosas, fried chili, sweet buns, or wada pav (a delicious deep-fried potato stuffed inside of a roll of bread, talk about carb loading!).

We get in another 2 hours of vaccinating before returning to the hotel for a break during the hottest part of the day and to repack the coolers. This afternoon will be spent searching for dogs to vaccinate.

Each day we walk anywhere from 9 to 12 miles. We wind our way through homes or shops, following our team leader, Frank, who is always checking our location on his phone. Mission Rabies has developed an advanced app to track the teams and to ensure we cover every stretch of the state of Goa. The app tracks the team’s location and once an area of the map has been completely surveyed, the team is reassigned to a new area.

Team Leopard’s area map; the red line indicates where the team has walked.
Team Leopard’s area map; the red line indicates where the team has walked.

Team Leopard’s area map; the red line indicates where the team has walked.

Sometimes there are long stretches where we see no dogs (or dogs with painted heads, indicating they have already been vaccinated) and my teammate, Arnie, and I pass the time chatting about everything from clinical cases to our families to our tastes in music.

At 6:00 pm we pile back into the truck and call it a day. There is enough time to shower and get on the wi-fi for a few minutes before dinner is served at the hotel restaurant. Dinner is spent recounting stories from the day and sharing pictures with each other in our Mission Rabies group chat.

Clinician's Brief

After dinner, most everyone goes straight to bed since we will have to get up and do the whole thing over in just a few hours. Is it worth it? Absolutely! —Alyssa Watson

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Alyssa Watson, DVM, graduated from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2003. Dr. Watson is currently an associate veterinarian at Northwest Animal Hospital in Las Vegas. In addition to clinical practice, Dr. Watson is a medical editor for Clinician's Brief. Dr. Watson’s professional interests include canine and feline dermatology, reproduction, and soft tissue surgery. When not at the hospital, she is apt to be enjoying the outdoors with her husband and their two young sons.

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