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Vaccinations in Veterinary Medicine
by Don Hamilton, DVM

NOTE: The following paragraphs were lifted from Dr. Hamilton's article found at HealthyHappyDogs.com.

A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual re-vaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccinations. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years, allowing an animal to develop a protective anamnestic (secondary) response when exposed to virulent organisms. Only the immune response to toxins requires boosters (e.g. tetanus toxin booster, in humans, is recommended once every 7-10 years). And no toxin vaccines are currently used for dogs and cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response as a result of interference by existing antibody (similar to maternal antibody interference). The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy unless it is used as a mechanism to provide an annual physical examination or is required by law (i.e., certain states require annual revaccination for rabies).

Summary: Yearly "boosters" are unnecessary, provide no benefit if given (will not increase immunity). Thus boosters are either a legal issue (Rabies) or a manipulation issue (inducing clients to come in for examination rather than directly suggesting an examination).

Finally, a comment about vaccinations and choice. While the concept of 'owning' an animal is one with which I am uncomfortable, I do recognize that this is how the human-animal relationship is viewed from a legal perspective. Otherwise we certainly can be said to be guardians of our companion animals. Within this framework the choice about vaccination rests with the human who has accepted responsible guardianship. It does not rest with the veterinarian. Another trend of the past few years is coercion of guardians into procedures such as vaccination. This coercion may be blatant, such as refusal to provide services, even emergency care, unless the animal is 'current' on vaccines. Sometimes even critically ill animals are vaccinated upon admission for treatment. More subtle means include induction of fear and/or guilt by asserting (as an authority figure) that companion animals are at risk if not vaccinated yearly, and that failure to comply is evidence of lack of caring. Tactics such as this can create feelings of guilt in the guardian, leading to a fear based decision to vaccinate an animal that is not at risk. This is unethical if not outright malpractice and refusal is an acceptable response. As has been stated above, rabies vaccination is legally compulsive at one to three year intervals, so refusal is a legal risk. Fighting to change these laws, however, is appropriate.

FYI!  Rabies Challenge Study!

World-renown vaccine research scientist and practicing veterinarian, Dr. W. Jean Dodds of California, and pet vaccine disclosure advocate, Kris L. Christine of Maine, have established The Rabies Challenge Fund to raise money to fund a 7 year rabies vaccine challenge study in the United States. Rabies vaccination is the one immunization required by law across the country for domestic dogs and cats. Researchers believe this vaccine causes the most and worst adverse reactions in animals. The Rabies Challenge Fund has been founded to improve the safety of rabies vaccines and to determine, by challenge, if they confer immunity for 5, 6, or 7 years.  More...

 

Donations can be sent to THE RABIES CHALLENGE FUND, c/o Hemopet, 11330 Markon Drive, Garden Grove, CA  92841.