Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Bring up the topic of vaccinations for pets and you're sure to set off a war between those "for" and those "against". Both sides can defend their arguments eloquently, but we need to look at some basic facts when deciding the best course of action. Based on the facts, you can see the vaccine debate has been raging for over a century.

- In 1855 the first legislation was passed mandating vaccination of school age children.
- Vaccinations have saved the lives of millions of pets and humans by preventing illness.
- Vaccinations have helped eradicate or minimize outbreaks of serious diseases, like distemper and smallpox, that have killed thousands of pets and humans in the past.
- Vaccinations protect people from deadly diseases like Rabies, which are spread through infected animals.
- According to manufacturers, vaccines are safe, with very low incidence of adverse event reactions reported.
- Many veterinarians and pediatricians will not treat patients that are not vaccinated.
- Many boarding, grooming, day care, and hospital facilities will not admit unvaccinated animals.

- In 1879 the Anti-Vaccination Society of America was formed
- In 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was passed in response to the large number of lawsuits filed claiming brain damage, illness, and death in children. The Act was intended to protect doctors, nurses, and vaccine manufacturers from liability.
- Vaccines are not safe; it is estimated only 1% of adverse event reactions are actually reported. Therefore, the volume of adverse events is actually quite high, and may be as high as 10%.
- Vaccine reactions occur ten times more often in small breed dogs than in larger breeds.
- Risk of an adverse reaction increases when more than one vaccine is given at one time.
- Vaccines provide immunity for many years and do not need to be given annually. Some may provide protection for life.
- Vaccines should only be given to healthy individuals. All vaccine labels and package inserts state that vaccines are for use in healthy pets only. Unfortunately, no one defines "healthy". Doctors and veterinarians do not consider allergies, poor condition, past illness, tumors, or cancer to be considered "poor health", opting to vaccinate in the face of disease.

No matter which side of the fence you are on, you will be able to find supporters. As an integrated veterinarian, I fall somewhere in the middle, but definitely more toward the "against". In my opinion, vaccinations are given too often, too many at one time, to animals with minimal exposure to the disease being "prevented", and to sick animals. In future blogs I will discuss my recommendations, but remember, each pet is an INDIVIDUAL, meaning vaccine recommendations must be INDIVIDUALIZED. There is no "one sizes fits all" prescription.

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