Tuesday, January 7, 2014

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate - That is the Question


Now here's a question I've been chewing on for quite a while. I worry about over doing everything, from supplements, to worming, to vaccines -- on my animals, my family and myself.

What do you guys think about this very touchy subject?

Horse Vaccination Protocol

Written by Mark DePaolo, DVM.  COPYRIGHT © 2012 All rights reserved.


We are increasingly seeing negative side effects that occur from the over-use and un-judicious administration of routine vaccines.  This condition of sometimes-permanent negative side effects caused by overuse of vaccines is collectively termed “Vaccinosis”. 
It’s time for us, as proactive horse owners, to rethink all of our traditional ideas on equine vaccinations.  If vaccines needed to be given annually (or more often), people would still be getting vaccinated every year for all of those diseases that we were vaccinated for as kids.
Almost all of our horse vaccines last a minimum of 7 years, most last a lifetime.   Many horse owners continue to vaccinate their horses too frequently because they believe that vaccines are innocuous (do no harm).  Many horses are vaccinated yearly (or more often) for diseases that they are never exposed to or already have immunity to.
Vaccinations in horses are being recommended much more frequently than the same vaccine in their human counterpart.  Human and horse immune systems function in exactly the same fashion.  Humans are only vaccinated as babies and children but some farms vaccinate their horses 6 plus times a year for a horse’s entire life.


Because most people and veterinarians have been taught that vaccine reactions occur within 48 hours after the vaccine is given, many vaccination reactions go unreported.  Often horses have vaccine reactions that go totally unnoticed or occur up to 30 days after the administration of the vaccine so these symptoms are not generally thought of as being linked.
Even the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) warns:
“It should be recognized that:  Administration of multiple vaccines at the same time may increase the risk of adverse reactions.  Safety and efficacy data are not available regarding the concurrent use of multiple vaccines.  Adverse reactions are not always predictable and are inherent risks of vaccination. Therefore, it is recommended that horses not be vaccinated in the 2 weeks prior to shows, performance events, sales or domestic shipment. Some veterinarians may elect not to vaccinate horses within 3 weeks of international shipment.
After receiving a vaccine(s) intramuscularly, some horses experience local muscular swelling and soreness or transient, self-limiting signs including fever, anorexia and lethargy. Severe reactions at sites of injection can be particularly troublesome, requiring prolonged treatment and convalescence. Systemic adverse reactions (such as urticaria, purpura hemorrhagica or anaphylaxis) can also occur. Other systemic adverse reactions have been anecdotally reported”.


The label insert for every vaccine warns against vaccinating horses that are unhealthy.
No horse should ever be vaccinated that has any of the following:
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Heaves
  • Cushings
  • Equine Protozoal Encephalomyelitis (EPM)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSM or PPSM)
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Any disease not listed here

Or any type of:
  • Infection
  • Skin disease
  • Hives
  • White Line Disease
  • Scratches
  • Respiratory Tract Infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye problems
  • Allergies or allergic reactions


Most veterinarians recommend what they learned in school (the vaccination schedule developed by the drug companies that manufacture the vaccines).  Veterinarians seldom want to be controversial and go against regular western medical training and it is beneficial for them because they are also making a profit by administering the vaccines.  Many veterinary clinics make up to 50% of their income by administering “annual vaccinations”.
Many holistic veterinarians tout antibody titers as the way to know if your horse is in need of any vaccines.  Antibody titers measure the amount of antibodies that are circulating around the blood stream at any given time to a particular disease.  These titer tests are wonderful and give us great information as long as the horses’ antibody levels are elevated.
The problem with titer tests is that they only measure what is called humoral (liquid) immunity, they can’t measure your horses’ cellular immunity.  Humoral immunity is when the animal is exposed to a certain disease for the first time and it produces antibodies to that disease.  Humoral immunity and circulating antibodies will only last for a short while without any reoccurring exposure to that disease.
The body also, at the same time that it produces the humoral immunity, will produce cellular immunity.  Cellular immunity consists of a certain type of white blood cell that can differentiate into other cells when needed.  These cells, when stimulated by exposure to a pathogen (germ), can then make antibodies.  This type of immunity is almost always life-long.  Unfortunately, there is no way to measure cellular immunity.  Therefore, if you run a titer and the numbers are low, it is quite likely that you’re horse is still immune to that disease, but you have no way of knowing.  If you have ever run a vaccine titer on your horse and it was protective, your horse has life long immunity to that disease.


You can go on the internet and search for the incidence of certain diseases on the website of your state veterinary board or the Center for Disease Control.  Remember that just because a certain number of cases have been reported in your state, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those animals became sick or even needed to be treated.  We are trying to look at all of the information with an open mind and then make a decision based on common sense, not fear.  We may need to “read between the lines” some, to make the most informed decisions when it comes to the delicate health of our beloved horses.


A common sense vaccine protocol would be to treat our horses like we were treated as kids.  We were given three or four vaccines at certain strategically timed intervals and then we were covered, for life!
Foals are not born immune-competent, which means they do not have the ability to mount a normal immune response until sometime after 6 months of age. This is why a mare will pass antibodies to the foal in the colostrum(first milk).  This is the only immunity that the foal posses for the first half-year or so of life.  Because that foal can’t make its own antibodies, if you vaccinate it prior to immunocompitence you force the foal to use up the antibodies that were passed to it in the colostrum.  Adequate colostrum intake is essential.  If vaccines are administered to foals too early they interfere with colostral antibodies.
We believe that horses should be vaccinated for the first time one month after weaning (not before 7 months).  The foals’ immune system doesn’t mature enough to produce antibodies until after 6 months of age.  The second vaccination should be given 30-45 days after the first and the last vaccination should be given one year after the second.
That’s it, except for tetanus.  Tetanus should be given at the same interval initially, but we feel that a horse should be given a dose of tetanus toxoid after each deep cut or puncture wound, only if it has been more than one year since the last tetanus vaccine.  If tetanus antibodies last 10 years in humans they will last 10 years in our horses.  So, if you prefer to vaccinate routinely against tetanus then you should not do it any more often than once a decade.
We have separated the commonly given vaccines out into three categories:
1: Core Vaccines- those vaccines that can help to prevent diseases that could kill your horse, (should only be given when the disease is present in the area that your horse lives or travels to in a significantly prevalent level to justify risking the negative side effects that could be caused by the vaccine)
2: Non-Core Vaccines- those vaccines that are given to try to prevent diseases that are only a nuisance to our horses, (we don’t recommend these due to the fact that they will compromise the immune system)
3: Yet to be proven vaccines- these diseases are rarely fatal.  Because these vaccines result in immune compromise, they can predispose your horse to the disease that you are trying to prevent.  (vaccines that we believe should never be given.)
Core Vaccines:
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Potomac Horse Fever - rarely fatal, but can cause laminitis
  • Eastern (EEE), Western (WEE) and Venezuelan Encephalomyelities (VEE)
There were no cases of WEE and VEE reported in the US in 2009 and very few cases of EEE reported.  You will also notice that the cases of EEE that were reported were in a very localized region of the country.  
The map below is courtesy of the CDC.

EEE states.gif
Non-Core Vaccines:
  • Rhinopneumonitis
  • Influenza
  • Strangles
  • Pneumobort K
Unproven Vaccines:
  • West Nile Virus
  • Equine Protozoal Encephalomyelitis


Even though mercury has been banned in human vaccines (except flu), most horse owners have no idea that all killed virus vaccines are preserved with Thimerosal (mercury).  All vaccines contain an adjuvant which is used to stimulate the immune system.  If the immune system has been previously stimulated (by the last vaccine that hasn’t worn off yet) the next time you stimulate it you can actually tear it down.
Vaccines frequently given to horses that contain mercury (Thimerosal™) as a preservative are:
  • West Nile
  • West Nile + Venezuelan
  • Eastern or Western Encephalomyelitis + Tetanus
  • Strangles
  • Equine Protozoal Encephalomyelitis
  • Rhino/Flu, Potomac Horse Fever
  • Pneumabort
  • Western Encephalomyelitis + Tetanus
  • Equine Influenza
  • Rabies
  • Equine Rotavirus
  • Salmonella
  • Clostridium Botulinum
  • Tetanus


Mercury is the most potent Neurotoxin known to mankind.  The immune system is primarily composed of nerve tissue.  Therefore, one of the first things to be compromised by excessive vaccinations is the immune system due to the neurotoxic effects of the mercury and the adjuvant, then the neurologic disease can take a-hold and cause symptoms.  The growth rate of tumors such as sarcoids and melanomas can be greatly sped up by decreasing the ability of the immune system to function properly.


It is a common practice for veterinarians to recommend that pregnant mares be given a Pneumobort K vaccine at 5, 7, and 9 months of gestation.  They will often also recommend that owners give their horse a five, seven or eight-way vaccine one month prior to giving birth.  The five-way consists of Tenatus, Rhinopneumonitis, Influenza, Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis (Sleeping Sickness).  The seven way adds in strangles and rabies.  West Nile is the eighth addition.
Any mare that is not immune comprised will include these antibodies in the colostrum without us giving her a "booster" a month prior to giving birth.  It's her job.

What they won’t tell you is that a horse can abort from a rhinopneumonitis infection only ONCE in their entire life.  A mare can only abort the very first time that she is infected with the virus and only if she is pregnant at the time.  Once she has been infected, whether she is pregnant at the time or not, she will build antibodies to the infection and can NEVER abort from this disease again. 
So it makes sense to not vaccinate any pregnant mares with Pneumobort K.  If the mare has already been exposed prior to the pregnancy she will never abort.  If she hasn’t been previously exposed she will abort once and only once.
Also, the multi-way vaccinations are preserved with Thimerosal (mercury), the interesting fact about mercury is that it is one of the heavy metals that can and will cross the placental barrier.  So, the mercury that you are giving to your mare, she is sharing with her foal.  If a mare has a good healthy immune system she will have a life-long immunity to all of the diseases that are present in a five way vaccine.  She will pass these antibodies onto her foal through the colostrum.


It is very difficult today, with all the stresses that our horses are subjected to, to keep their immune systems healthy and strong.  It is our goal at DePaolo Equine Concepts to help give you the information that you need to keep your horse healthy in the stressful world that they live in now.  It is very difficult to maintain a good healthy immune system when it is constantly being bombarded with stimulants, heavy metals and unnecessary medications. 
It is not our intent to talk you into not vaccinating your horse.  It is, however, our intent to give you another view point from a classically trained veterinarian, with just as much schooling as your regular vet.


  • Negative side effects can occur from the over-use of vaccines.
  • Horses can have vaccine reactions up to 30 days after the administration of the vaccine so often times these symptoms go totally unnoticed or are not generally thought of as being linked to a vaccine administration.
  • If a vaccine is completely necessary, the horse should always be healthy BEFORE administering the vaccine.
  • Antibody titers are a way to know if your horse is in need of any vaccines.
  • Many common equine vaccines contain Thimerosal (mercury).  Mercury is the most potent neurotoxin.
  • It is imperative as a horse owner to become educated about vaccines, your horse's vaccine history and current schedule and immunity.

This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as Dr. DePaolo diagnosing your horse’s health. DePaolo Equine Concepts, Inc. recommends that you consult your regular veterinarian regarding specific health concerns.


Francis said...

I am so glad you opened this door. Will be interested in hearing what others think and/or have experienced.. out of 8 horses last year I had significant reactions in two, the oldest and youngest.. so have been trying to decide how to approach this year.

I have tended to skip two years in between vaccinations as the horses get older.. just hard to believe that they need annuals when they are in their home pasture unexposed..

Rabies is a different category however... I need to do more research on that one. I am covered up with skunks and rabies is pretty prevalent in Georgia.

Becky said...

I have a real problem with the west Niles Virus being given to mares - and it's only founded based on my experience, not scientific data.

Back in.... 2002/3? I dunno - when did California first have that big West Niles scare?

Anyways, every barn absolutely demanded that your horse have a West Niles vaccination, or they would be asked to leave - even pregnant mares.

At my barn alone - and we had.. I dunno.... 25/30 horses? Anyways, at my barn alone, we had four pregnant mares (it was the early 2000s and everyone wanted to take advantage of the horse industry boom).

One of the four mares - and she was a seasoned pro (her fifth baby, I think?) suddenly aborted a really weird look foal at about 7 months.

Another one gave birth to a preemie, who ultimately didn't make it (she, also, was seasoned and it was her first not-healthy birth.)

In the barn down the street - another seasoned broodmare who had been vaccinated about a week or two after conception later gave birth to a mature foal... with no eyes. They obviously had him put down.

So - was it West Niles? Was there something in our water that magically happened on that year to cause so many issues with broodmares having birth defects?

I know what I believe, but I'm willing to accept there might have been extenuating circumstances- all I know is that I have a real problem with barns suddenly requiring that EVERY SINGLE HORSE be vaccinated with a fairly unproven vaccine.

Anonymous said...

An interesting topic and one not just related to horses.

As my mare aged I cut back on the vaccines she was receiving, she didn't leave the farm, no other horses were on the property and none were visiting so I didn't see the point in doing anything other than her rabies shot and a botulism vaccine which was recommended since we fed her from round bales on occasion (all baled on our property).

I never vaccinated for strangles or West Nile. Prior to that she got her vaccines annually and we never encountered any issues with reactions.

I have a co-worker that refuses to vaccinate his cats for anything besides rabies. His family lost a fairly young cat (5-6 years old) to cancer and he firmly believes it was caused by over vaccination. Our indoor only cat just gets the rabies shot.

My dog on the other hand gets the full workup- he gets boarded quite often and the kennels are pretty strict with their requirements. I do question the requirement for a kennel cough vaccine every 6 months, why so often? Is there any real benefit?

Heidi the Hick said...

Mine didn't get done last year. I had a whopping vet bill to pay, and adding the cost of vaccinations to that wasn't an option for me. It's happened before that I just couldn't afford to do it and I've always felt bad about it. I'm pretty sure it's okay to skip a year, but I was raised that animals get their shots every year. It's hard to shake that mindset. I still feel better getting them rabies and tetanus.

And last time I got the West Nile shot I had a mare go into shaking convulsions. That turned me off of that shot.

Mine don't go anywhere and I don't have horses coming and going. But I would like to take them off the property some day. Then I'll feel guilty if they haven't had all their shots. So conflicted!!!! Sorry, no clear answers from me over here.

redhorse said...

I do rabies and tetanus. I don't show anymore, so I keep my eye on my state's website. A couple years ago I took my horse to another county for a few days, so I had him vaccinated for a couple of things, otherwise, when we go off the property we stay in our county or go to one next to it. We also have a pony with cushings, she gets tetanus as needed and rabies. I pretty much do the same with my dogs. They're 12 and 14, so I don't want to give them anything if I don't have to.

NotAFollower said...

An examination of vaccinations has been ongoing in the dog world for years. Look up Dr. Jean Dodds if you're curious. A lot of the pages that will turn up are poorly laid out, but the information is sound. The short form is that we're a lot closer to a more reasonable vaccine protocol for dogs. There's also an ongoing effort to better research the rabies vaccine - evidence so far is that it's also a lifelong vaccine.

Kennel cough/Bordatella in dogs is a tough one. It's a constantly changing disease, and there's a good bit of debate. Either we're getting it right and vaccinating every six months makes sense, or it's a total crapshoot. From personal experience, I tend towards the latter opinion. I had a show dog who got the bordatella booster regularly, and he had kennel cough once or twice a year. When I backed off on the vaccinations, the KC also diminished, in spite of continued exposure to many other dogs.

I had a cat that I strongly believe was vaccine damaged. His last shot was at four years old (I'll skip why I stopped annual vaccines at that time). He was already showing signs of being nt quite right, and over the next eleven years he just slowly failed. Lost weight, had to be fed very carefully or he'd throw up, all tests for organ problems came back negative. He was a Maine Coon Cat and should have weight at least 15#, probably closer to 17#. I was lucky if I could keep him over 12#, and I suspect he was as litte as 9# when he just kind of ran down like an old wind up toy and stopped.

mugwump said...

I'm conflicted. We have a serious rabies issue out here, so my horses get rabies. West Nile? I gave it to them for five year in a row. I truly think they're covered. Tetanus...why do I only need it every 10 years, but my horses need it annually? So, they get it every couple of years.
My dogs - rabies are required by law, so they get rabies. I have them vaccinated plus the necessary boosters the first year, then I stop. Just like we do for our kids.
Am I right? I just don't know. Which is why I wanted to hear from you.

lauraatkins said...

There's a lot of BS in that flyer.

The whole thimerosol thing is because a bunch of people, led by a crook and a liar, decided that vaccines caused autism. The crook and liar went so far as to fake data and get it published in a british medical journal. The crook and liar has sense been banned from practicing medicine and the medical journal has retracted and repudiated his research.

In an over abundance of caution, the american medical community removed thimerosol from most single use vaccine vials as they really don't need preservatives as they are sterile going in and aren't touched more than once.

As for tetanus in humans vs. tetanus in animals, much of the human recommendation is based on us not being exposed to tetanus as regularly as our large animals are.

It's been a long time since I was researching immunology, but the cellular vs. humoral immunity is only kinda right. The entire point of vaccination is to trigger antibody production which then translates into memory B-cell production. It's the circulating memory B cells that mean the immune response (both humoral and cell mediate) can happen MUCH faster than if the animal hasn't been exposed.

In an unexposed animal, it takes about 7 days to mount an effective immune response. In a vaccinated animal, that time is drastically shorter, sometimes it can happen as fast as 24 hours.

I don't always buy into "more vaccines better" and my own animals are, by AMVA standards, under vaccinated. But let's not confuse the issues of over vaccination with the lies spread by the anti-vaccine people.

Anonymous said...

I vaccinate the young horses for strangles, but after conversations with a couple of older vets, decided that once they are 4 or 5 years old, they either have immunity against it, or they don't. No sense to keep vaccinating for it. They get Rabies every year, a 4- or 5- way and West Nile, because we live in a low-lying area in the south and I'm not taking the chance.

I've been looking at all the research on whether or not the Rhino shots protect against the neuro form of the disease, or might even make it worse. For awhile, my horses were an isolated herd and I quit doing flu/rhino shots. Now, they are around horses that haul across the southeast and I feel like it's more necessary to keep them boostered annually. But, I won't do the every 3 or 4 month boosters that some boarding stables require.

Anonymous said...

Disappointed by lack of any references to back up any of the points cos without facts, figures, research and specific cases to back it up then it really is just one persons opinion based on their own experiences and their own understanding.

Setting that aside for a moment one of the things that doesn't seem to be considered in these debates re (over) vaccination is that the hands of vets are rather tied by the recommendations set out by the drug companies (whose own hands are tied by research and the need to be able to back up the claims they make). If they don't follow recommended schedules and something goes wrong (eg horse gets disease they said it would be protected against by the vaccination schedule they prescribed) then they are leaving themselves wide open to legal proceedings with no real way to defend their actions.

Now I'm over in the UK and am lucky in that I only really need to vaccinate for Flu and Tet (if I kept my horse in a situation where there wasn't a lot of movement on and off yard don't even think I'd bother with Flu) so obviously don't understand the (rather complicated sounding) collections of vaccines given in other countries

KD said...

I live in Florida which means a lot of mosquitoes...so we vaccinate for EWT twice a year, WNV once a year, strangles once a year and rabies once every 3 years. (my dogs get the rabies once every 3 years as well)

I camp and trail ride with my horses often so we come in contact with a lot of different horses. We picked up strangles from an event 10 years ago and I NEVER want to deal with that again!

I trust my vet's advice. I would drive myself crazy if I think about this too much. I already went practically crazy over the shoe or not to shoe issue. (After 8 years of boots and lameness issues - I now shoe all the way around with poly shoes)

Kara said...
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flyin'horse said...

I've always thought that we over vaccinate our horses and cats and dogs too. I sort of take the middle road. One of my horses has had a reaction to the WNV vaccine twice but there have been a few cases of it each year here so I do give it. It's a hard decision for sure. I definitely do not vaccinate as much as most people. My dogs and cats get the initial baby shots and boosters for a year or two and then they are done! Unless I have to board the dogs and then they are required to be "up to date". Luckily I live in the west, in an arid climate and in a closed herd so it's not as complicated as it is down south with all the humidity etc. And I do have to say that I've read this fellow's articles on his website and it reinforced what I already felt in my gut. But I'm no scientist!

Kara said...
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Kara said...
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Kara said...
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Cindy D. said...

I am like most people, I trust my vet. Which sometimes is really hard to do.

In WY we had someone dump a whole herd of horses on the state land just 1/2 mile from where I lived. They were sick and hurt, broken legs, and strangles. I found one laying in a ravine that we had to shoot on the spot. It was my first experience with strangles.

After seeing that I started vaccinating for it. Then one year they gave the live serum through the nasal cavities and all my horses had terrible reactions to it. Now I don't vaccinate for it.

I do however, do the West nile and the others. Not rabies though.

My dogs...well after working for a vet I saw way to many dogs die of Parvo and Distemper....it is a horrible death, so I always vaccinate for those. Rabies, I only do because I am required by law.

Kara said...
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Kara said...
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MichelleL said...

My guy is a Lonely Only, well him and his sheepy friend. We don't go off the property, no one comes to visit.

Very first week I had him I had the vet out to vaccinate him. He ended up with a wonderful case of necrotizing fasciitis in his neck as a result of one of the vaccines. Henceforth all vaccines are in his butt and he only gets the brand that does not cause him to react due to something in the liquid suspension. And that is every 2nd or 3rd year.

Yup it is all about being informed, lifestyle, and personal preference.

mugwump said...

Kara - This article was posted to create discussion. I hope your youthful, still in school, well educated yet without field experience, opinions, will create more discussion.
I am sure the vet who wrote this article could argue with you more effectively than I could, so I'm not wading in. My guess is he can match you statistic by statistic and immunologist by immunologist.
Personally, I'm more open to new opinions when they are presented with, "I think," or "I have learned," or best yet..."I have these facts published by xxx," than I ever do when I hear, "They are wrong and I am right."
The fact that there is such a wide chasm between your thoughts and the writer of this article simply tells me I'm going to research more on my own.
MichelleL. - Yes.

mugwump said...

P.S. - Here's some interesting information on thimerosal:


Anonymous said...

From Pfizer's website re. the use of their vaccine for tetanus: For all horses and foals, three months of age and above, the primary vaccination course consists of two injections of Equivac-T or Equivac 2 in 1, four weeks apart, followed up by a booster dose one year later. Boosters after this are recommended every five years.

So there ya go. A series of 3 injections at 1 and 4 weeks apart, followed up with a booster in a year, then boosted every five years. Pfizer did not reference data on their website to say how they arrived at the recommendation for five year boosters.

As for administering drugs to pregnant ANYTHING - no. Not unless absolutely necessary, and then in the smallest dosage possible for the shortest duration to achieve an effective response, e.g. antibiotics, pain relief. Vaccinate? No. Way. If the mare needs vaccinated, wait a few heat cycles, then breed. I base this on nothing more than common sense and 30 years of nursing. Good Lord, she is a horse, not a money-making uterus! (Amy in Ohio, who cannot remember her google account - google fail.)

Karen said...

I'm not buying a lot of what he's selling in that article. The notion that a mare will only abort due to Rhino infection once is so tremendously comforting when looking at the aborted fetus you put time and $$$ into creating that could have been prevented with cheap vaccines. I guess the breeder should just be glad they and the mare will only have to go through that once. I think I'd rather vaccinate.

I don't know where I stand on WNV and pregnant mares. I've heard some awful anecdotes and the web is full of horror stories.

I have a gelding with COPD and heaves who is currently farmed out to a different climate. The allergies apparently started as an inflammatory cascade from a respiratory infection that he picked up at a public event. At the time, I did not vaccinate geldings against rhino. Now, every horse that goes out in public gets rhino vaccines. That COPD/Heaves gelding also got his core vaccines, as it was more important, for him, to avoid more stress on his system. We did make sure to time the vaccines between reactions so we didn't interfere with his medication, but, with the help of my very experienced vet, we got it done.

I think a lot of people are growing the falsely started human vaccine controversy over into pets and livestock. I have a friend who is a vet that pleads with people to keep vaccinating their livestock, as she is seeing horses die from tetanus and other preventable diseases. It's like the whooping cough outbreaks in people. No reason for it other than the trend of thinking that since we don't see these diseases much, we must be overvaccinating. The reason we weren't seeing them is because vaccinating became the norm. Now they're cropping up again.

My reading has indicated that there are apparently issues with overvaccinating cats that grow tumors at the injection sites. However, I think it's important to keep in mind that we are not all cats, and we aren't all being stuck with cat vaccines.

Anonymous said...

Who here is old enough to remember mercurochrome and merthiolate? Before Bactine came along, if we had a bad cut, Mom dragged out a bottle of nasty stinging (hey, it stung so it WORKED) and bright pinky-red stuff (bright colored, impressive, must really WORK). Mercurochrome = mercury+bromine, Merthiolate = thermisal. All that mercurial antiseptic plus playing with mercury in science class and whenever we broke a thermometer ought to make use the biggest bunch of autistic idiots on the planet. Not so much. Once again, not citing any big studies, just applying common sense. Amy in Ohio

Anonymous said...

I've long been convinced they don't need doing every year but of course now we have the equine passport in the UK and if you want to keep it up to date you have to have the vaccines recorded in it by your vet. If you go over the time you have to start over so it isn't worth it. Luckily it's only flu and tetanus, and they only have to have tetanus every other year. My vet told me years ago that every 3years would be fine but they did alternate years because it was easier to remember. Now we have the passport that no longer applies so I must ask him about that!
I've just got my cat's booster reminder and am sure it's just to wring more money out of pet owners that they insist on every year. They also make you have a 'health check' at the same time (and pay for it of course!) but the vet only saw my cat two weeks ago when he took a tooth out so that shouldn't be needed. Bet I can't wriggle out of it though!

Fwiw I'm not an 'antivaxer' otherwise I wouldn't have had both my children done, but my son did have a severe reaction to a vaccine, after which he immediately developed bowel problems. He's also autistic. I might not be able to prove the vaccine contributed to it but I can't rule it out either. All my family who saw what happened think it was a factor, even my sister who worked for the NHS at the time and was very pro-vax.

maryka said...

I'm in the UK & here horses are vaccinated annually for Flu & bi-annually for Tetanus. My old boy is rising 21 & I haven't vaccinated for Flu for the last 5yrs as we don't go anywhere & we're not a competition yard. I have him done for Tetanus every two yrs as this is what is recommended over here. In the uk the Veteran Horse Society recommends that you no longer give your veteran jabs for Flu & just keep the Tetanus one up to date. On a personal level my doctor told me years ago that I no longer need a Tetanus injection as I am now protected for life ! But do have a flu jab annually as am Asthmatic , but am not totally happy about this as this year had an awful cough & felt ill for two months after the flu jab & my friend was the same ( no not caught off each other as we had the jabs about 6 weeks apart )

Lana Pugh said...

Because of where I live I think vaccinations are absolutely necessary. Mississippi has many west Nile cases every year, I have witnessed first hand how quickly strangles can spread, and there are just too many varmits and insects here that carry disease not to vaccinate. Then again I've never had one have a reaction. I've hauled and competed extensively and I just feel better knowing that my boys and girls can step off a trailer and are protected.

I'm also the same person that will not get a flu vaccine because I get a severe reaction to every one I've ever had. But I did get the HPV vaccine.

I think use common sense, know your area, and doctor accordingly.

foffmom said...

Bottom line, I have an old-school conservative vet that I totally trust. I live in the horse capital of the world (self-proclaimed) Lexington Ky. And even though we no longer show, my daughter does ride off the place to a local boarding barn. And you never know when your neighbor will decide to get a horse or pony, and as your guys barrel to the exterior fence to sniff the newbie, it is too late to get vaccines or ask if the next-door horse had his. And the dogs have to be board-able. The cats I purposely drift into a every two to three year schedule.

LadyFarrier said...

My local vet no longer administers a 5 or even, if she can help it, a 3 way shot. She said she's seen too many bad reactions. She says that a lot of these reactions are reportable. However, many vets will just tell the client that there may be a reaction so it's ignored and not reported.

I'm currently working on a mare who nearly sloughed her hooves after a 105F fever following the 5 way. She's trotting about now, but when I met her she was laying on her side moaning. It's a sight I won't forget. It'll be a year and tens of thousands in vet bills before things are "normal" again. The only reasons this mare lived are her strong will and her owners' ability to pay the bill.

I do think we tend to over-vaccinate most everything in this country. I believe we haven't even begun to see the long term effects, whether they're good or bad.

One of our geldings was a show horse and travelled during his career. He was kept on quite a regimen of vaccinations. After we got him we agreed to re up his boosters and he reacted worse each time. After two bad reactions, we don't vaccinate him at all and haven't in years. Our other horses are all over twenty five (one's over thirty five!) and I don't think it's good to stress their immune systems that way at this point.

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