These days, it’s hard to convince people to get vaccinated.

But if you think convincing people to come into Walgreens and get even a free vaccination is difficult, well, you should try convincing a raccoon to do so.

Racoons are notorious anti-vaxxers – in fact, they typically shun all medical treatment.  That’s why state wildlife officials are, once again this year, propagating a total scam on the unsuspecting omnivorous, nocturnal mammals.

In what is an annual program, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is working with the US Department of Agriculture to help prevent the spread of rabies in the state. Wildlife Services is now distributing oral rabies vaccine to wild raccoons in North Carolina.

Beginning in early October each year, tasty seafood treats containing oral rabies vaccine are aerially distributed in Alleghany, Ashe, Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, Macon, Mitchell, Swain, Transylvania, Wilkes and Yancey Counties.

This year the program began on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Raccoons in Guilford County won’t get the non-consensual vaccinations, but neither will they have very tasty treats dropping from the sky like manna from heaven.

NCDHHS Deputy State Public Health Veterinarian Erica Berl said vaccinating the racoons against rabies helps keep Fido and Fluffy from becoming rabid terrors as well.

 “Avoiding contact with wild animals and vaccinating our domestic animals and pets is the best way to prevent rabies, which can often be fatal,” Berl said. “The wildlife rabies vaccination program prevents the spread of rabies among animals in the wild, which in turn prevents humans, pets and other animals from becoming infected.”

The baits consist of a “sachet” – that is, a plastic packet that contains the oral rabies vaccine. To make the baits enticing to raccoons, the packets are either sprinkled with a fishmeal coating or encased inside hard fishmeal, which state officials describe as “polymer blocks about the size of a matchbox.”

When a raccoon takes the bait and begins to enjoy his fortuitous treat, the vaccine packet is punctured, and the raccoon is inoculated against the vaccine. This causes the animal’s immune system to produce antibodies that provide protection against rabies.

It also, no doubt, produces an unpleasant aftertaste.