Expert Guidelines/Other Vaccines
(Spanish translation available here)
How often do we need to vaccinate?
See also: An Update on Canine and Feline Vaccination
Research conducted by Dr Ronald Schultz, in which dogs were exposed to distemper and parvovirus, showed that every single dog was protected when exposed to the viruses – up to 11 years after they were first vaccinated.
Based on this research, Dr Schultz recommended triennial revaccination instead of annual revaccination. (He now suggests that one puppy shot is all that is needed.)
These early recommendations prompted the American Animal Hospital Association to assemble a task force. In 2003, the AAHA Canine Vaccine Task Force evaluated the data from these challenge and serological studies and, while noting that the core vaccines had a minimum duration of immunity of at least seven years, they compromised with the statement that “revaccination every three years is considered protective”.
Task force member Dr. Richard Ford, Professor of Medicine, North Carolina State University, said that the decision to recommend a three year revaccination schedule for core vaccines was a compromise. “It’s completely arbitrary…,” he said. “I will say there is no science behind the three-year recommendation…”
After the 2003 task force, all of the major veterinary vaccine manufacturers completed their own studies showing a minimum three year duration of immunity (DOI) on the core vaccines – distemper, parvo and adenovirus. Why didn’t they do this sooner? Because no-one had asked them to. The veterinary drug licensing bodies only asked for proof of efficacy for one year! This was their license to over-vaccinate.
Dr Schultz continued with his work and by 2006, had performed seven additional DOI studies on over 1,000 dogs and repeated the same results over and over again, effectively showing that dogs were protected for much longer than three years and most likely for the life of the dog. In fact, so sure was Dr. Schultz of his work, that his own vaccination protocol for his dogs was one shot of distemper, parvo and adenovirus - and none thereafter.
In 2003, the AAHA Task Force advised vets of the following in regard to their three year recommendation: “This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information and well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.”
What about the other vaccines?
Leptospirosis vaccine is used routinely by the veterinary profession, heavily influenced by the veterinary vaccine industry. However, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association deems this a non-core (optional) vaccine and cautions that it should be used only if there is a serious disease threat in the area.
Leptospirosis is a rare disease, and the vaccine is associated with severe adverse reactions, especially neurological (brain damage). Small dogs are at greatest risk from this vaccine. Further, there are hundreds of strains of leptospirosis, and only two or three in a vaccine, so the vaccine isn’t terribly protective.
Please ask your vet how many dogs he or she has treated with confirmed leptospirosis in the last six months. As this is a vaccine associated with extreme side-effects, his or her answer will help you to decide whether you wish to give your dogs this optional vaccine.
Kennel cough vaccine is also non-core (optional) but routinely given in the UK. Please note that the datasheets accompanying kennel cough vaccines state that humans with compromised immune systems must avoid contact with vaccinated dogs for up to seven weeks. The vaccine can cause kennel cough in dogs and infect humans and other dogs. This can give rise to epidemics in boarding kennels.
Kennel cough is rarely life-threatening to dogs, but the shed vaccine poses a serious risk to immunocompromised humans.
Join the Pet Welfare Alliance, and work with us to update the veterinary profession on duration of immunity and vaccine risks.