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Harbin struggling with shortage of rabies vaccine

Updated : 2020-11-13

By ( chinadaily.com.cn )

Downtown districts in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, are struggling with a shortage of rabies vaccines after nearly 70,000 people received inoculations over the past 10 months.

Starting from this summer, some who were bitten by dogs had to get vaccinated in suburban areas or even some nearby cities, local media reported on Monday.

Most of the vaccines were used for those bitten by dogs, Heilongjiang Daily reported.

The supply of the vaccines has been tight due to increased demand and a lack of production, resulting in many clinics being unable to provide shots, the city's center for disease control and prevention said.

Since June, the provinces of Anhui, Shanxi, Yunnan and Hebei have also been experiencing shortages. The supply of the vaccine is generally tight due to a decrease in production by some companies since 2018, the National Health Commission said in June.

"The vaccine is the only way to prevent rabies, which has a very high death rate," said Wang Yuedan, a professor of immunology at Peking University.

Sun Jianlong, deputy director of the Harbin public security bureau's dog management department, said: "Since Harbin adopted a new policy to regulate the growing pet population in November 2012, there have been 49,935 dogs registered at local public security departments. In the past 10 months, 3,001 dog owners have registered their pets."

According to the policy, households in Harbin may not have more than one dog, and residents are prohibited from raising "large and dangerous" dogs.

Dogs taller than 50 centimeters, longer than 70 cm or on a list of 49 breeds considered "dangerous" are banned from downtown Harbin.

According to bureau statistics, there were more than 100,000 dogs in Harbin in 2012.

Sun and his colleagues have strengthened the management of stray dogs to prevent attacks on people and the spreading of rabies. They have set up shelters for the more than 100 strays that live in the city.

"Rabies vaccinations for dogs can make the pets and their owners safer," said Yin Xuesong, a veterinarian and owner of a pet clinic in Harbin. "However, when I give my customers such advice, very few of them accept it.

"Usually, I receive fewer than 10 dogs owners who ask for rabies vaccinations every month. They are more willing to spend money on pet bathing and grooming.

"To ensure safety, people should keep a safe distance from dogs, especially those without leashes outside."

The rabies vaccine is not included in China's immunization plan, which means it is not provided to the public for free.