For many veterinary practitioners canine vaccination programs have been “practice management tools” rather than medical procedures. Thus, it is not surprising that attempts to change the vaccines and vaccination programs based on scientific information have created great controversy and unique methods of resistance to the proposed changes have been and are being developed. For some practitioners the issues are not duration of immunity for the vaccines, nor which vaccines are needed for the pet, instead it is felt that every licensed vaccine should be given to every pet on an annual or more often basis. Ironically this is fostered by the fact that multivalent products with 7 or more vaccine components can be purchased for the same price or less than a product with one or two vaccine components. A “more is better” philosophy prevails with regard to pet vaccines. On many occasions practitioners say that “I know many of the vaccines I administer probably aren’t needed but it won’t hurt to give them and who knows the animal may need them some time during their life because of unknown risk.” I have also been told by many practitioners that “I believe the duration of immunity for some vaccines like distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis is many years, but until I find another way to get the client into my office on a regular basis I’m going to keep recommending vaccines annually. Annual vaccination has been and remains the single most important reason why most pet owners bring their pets for an annual or more often “wellness visit.” The importance of these visits for the health of the pet is exceptional. Therefore, dog owners must understand the vaccines are not the reason why their dog needs an annual wellness visit. Another reason for the reluctance to change current vaccination programs is many practitioners really don’t understand the principles of vaccinal immunity.
A significant number of practitioners believe: 1) the annual revaccination recommendation on the vaccine label is evidence the product provides immunity for (only) one year. – Not True
2) that they are legally required to vaccinate annually and if they don’t they will not be covered by AVMA liability insurance if the animal develops a vaccine preventable disease – Not True. Furthermore, certain companies will not provide assistance if practitioners don’t vaccinate annually with core vaccines. Not True – In fact most of the companies have now demonstrated their core products provide at least 3 years of immunity.