Vaccination of dogs and cats protects them from infections that may be lethal or cause serious disease. Vaccination is a safe and efficacious practice that in many countries has had major impact on improving the quality of life of small companion animals. The success of small animal vaccination programmes over the past five decades mirrors the success of vaccination in controlling disease in the human population. But is it necessary to vaccinate your pet annually after the initial required puppy/kitten vaccinations?
What are vaccines?
A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, its toxins or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as foreign, destroy it, and "remember" it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it may encounter in the future.
Vaccines have been classified into Core Vaccine and Non-Core vaccines.
What is a core vaccine?
According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and their Vaccine Guidlines group (VGG) "core vaccines are those which ALL dogs and cats, regardless of circumstances or geographical location, should receive. Core vaccines protect animals from severe, life-threatening diseases that have global distribution".
Core vaccines for dogs are:
What is a non-core vaccine?
The VGG has defined non-core vaccines "as those that are required by only those animals whose geographical location, local environment or lifestyle places them at risk of contracting specific infections, for example leptospirosis or Lyme disease.
Duration of Immunity (DOI)
After vaccination an animal will develop an immunity to the disease, but, for how long will the animal have this immunity?
According to the VGG "Most companion animal core vaccines, until relatively recently, had a 1-year minimum DOI and carried a recommendation for annual revaccination. In more recent years many of the same products have been licensed with a minimum DOI of 3 (or sometimes 4) years. Above all, it must be remembered that even a 3-year license is a minimum DOI for core vaccines and for most core vaccines the true DOI is likely to be considerably longer, if not lifelong, for the majority of vaccine recipients".
Is there a way to find out if your pet still has immunity?
According to the VGG "Serological Testing to Determine the Duration of Immunity (DOI) Antibody tests can be used to demonstrate the DOI after vaccination with core vaccines. It is known that a large majority of companion animals maintain protective antibody against many of the core diseases for many years and numerous experimental studies support this observation (Bohm et al. 2004, Mouzin et al. 2004, Schultz 2006, Mitchell et al. 2012). Therefore, when the antibody is absent, the companion animal should be revaccinated unless there is a medical reason for not so doing, even though some will be protected by immunological memory. The VGG recognizes that at present such serological testing might be relatively expensive. However, the principles of ‘evidencebased veterinary medicine’ suggest that testing for antibody status (for either puppies or adult dogs) should be better practice than simply administering a vaccine booster on the basis that this would be ‘safe and cost less’.
Note: the non-core vaccines have a lesser efficacy of keeping immunity.
What are the disadvantages of over-vaccination?
1. the dog is genetically defective
2. there is something wrong with the dog's diet
3. the dog is unhealthy when vaccinated
4. the dog is stressed at the time of injection
5. the dog's immune system is incompetent
6. the dog is exposed to a virus before or immediately after vaccination
7. the dog is taking immune suppressant drugs such as steroids
8. the vet administers the vaccine inappropriately
9. the dog is incubating disease at the time of vaccination
Parvovirus was created by vaccines! This disease didn't exist prior to the 1970s. In fact, scientists tell us it was created by vaccine manufacturers who cultured the distemper vaccine on cat kidneys that were infected with feline enteritis. This cat-enteritis-diseased distemper vaccine was then injected into dogs around the world, and parvovirus reared its ugly head around the world at the same time. A naturally occurring epidemic would spread slowly across continents. Parvovirus appeared with a big bang, in line with multi-national vaccine company distribution policies.
Research, especially from the USA and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) points to vaccines lasting, at least, seven years and sometimes life.
Dr Shultz: https://www.wsava.org/Committees/Committees/Vaccination-Guidelines-Group