Government agencies are set to begin the annual rabies vaccination program for wildlife in Northeast and Central Alabama. Starting on October 5th, officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the USDA Wildlife Services Division will begin the widespread distribution of an oral rabies vaccine for raccoons. The vaccine packets will be distributed by airplane and helicopter in sparsely populated areas, and by truck and personnel on foot in more heavily populated areas. The focus of the program is to control rabies in the state's raccoon population. The distribution will last for 10 days and cover 10 counties including Cherokee, Dekalb and Etowah counties in the TV24 coverage area. ADPH officials say that it is not uncommon for the vaccine packets to end up in unintended locations like driveways or backyards. It is important to note that exposure to the packets WILL NOT cause rabies and there is rarely an adverse reaction in humans or pets if the packets are found. However, the Public Health Department has issued some suggestions in the event you or your pet are exposed to the packets. 1) - Avoid direct skin contact by always wearing gloves, or use a plastic bag, to remove or relocate the vaccine packet. 2) - A pet that ingests the vaccine packet MAY experience gastrointestinal upset, follow-up with a veterinarian is necessary only if the symptoms persist for an unusual length of time. 3) - Persons who are pregnant, immune compromised or have direct skin contact with a punctured vaccine packet should consult a physician. For questions about human or animal reactions from accidental exposure to the vaccine packets, please contact the Alabama Department of Public Health at 1-800-338-8374.