Vets on Vaccines: Inadequate Education

June 26, 2012

Catherine O’Driscoll — author, pet welfare advocate and founder of the PetWelfareAlliance and the Canine Health Concern — recently sent a questionnaire to some of her veterinary friends, eliciting their views on the vaccine issue. Here are some of the statements about veterinary training from the vets she questioned.  Read the full 16-page article, originally published in Dogs Naturally Magazine, by clicking on this link.   

Dr Arthur Freedman:  “When I received my training, little was known about duration of immunity and vaccines. I was not informed about possible short term or long term adverse effects of vaccination.  Once in practice, I observed immediate Type 1 hypersensitivity reactions (anaphylaxis, wheals, vomiting and diarrhoea).  I’ve also been able to correlate seizures and autoimmune haemolytic anaemia with vaccination.”

Dr Stephen Blake:  “I emphatically do not believe that I was taught adequately with regard to the vaccine issue.  I was taught to believe vaccinations were synonymous with immunization. They are two separate entities. 

“I was taught vaccines were safe and it was implied there had been safety studies done on them before they were used on the general public. They are not safe and there have not been any safety studies done on any of them.

“I was taught that if something adverse happens within a few hours after immunization it was related to the vaccines but, if it happened later than that period of time, it had nothing to do with the vaccines. The truth of the matter is vaccines can set up a latent condition that may show up within a few hours or years after immunization. “I was taught you needed to vaccinate every year to boost animals’ immune systems. There are no studies to show that annual boosters are ever indicated or that there is any science to support annual vaccines to boost an animal’s immune system. I was never taught that mercury and aluminium hydroxide, which are in  the vaccines, can cause cancer, are neurotoxins, and can trigger autoimmune disease.”

Dr Jeff Feinman: “My training in vet school was not complete with regard to the harmful effects that vaccines have on the immune system.  The scientific evidence was not properly explored by the eighties. Vaccines were designed to help stimulate immunity.  Current research is proving just the opposite however.  Even my graduate school immunology course (attended mainly by MD students) was incomplete.”

Marcia DuBois Martin, DVM, CVA:  “I have been out of school for over 20 years and don’t remember much about what we were taught on the vaccine issue, except that vaccines were very safe with the exception of some very rare vaccine reactions (anaphylaxis and urticaria) and that the diseases they protected against were very dangerous. Annual revaccination was safe and effective. I don’t remember hearing anything about duration of immunity or long term side effects.”

Mark Carpenter MRCVS says:  “Vaccination in college was skimmed over with little discussion of potential risks involved.  In practice I have seen what I believe to be vaccine related problems of skin disease (allergic); inflammatory bowel disease; and epilepsy which appear to have been triggered or coincided with vaccination.”

Dr Michael Dym:  “Our training in veterinary school was not adequate with regards to immune system reactions in our animals.  We were taught a one size fits all vaccination program.  There was nothing taught about the chronic immune reactions that can occur weeks, months or years later after vaccination in certain susceptible animals.  From personal conversation with Ron Schultz, renowned veterinary immunologist,  I learned that these important concepts are not taught in modern veterinary schools.”

Dr Erin Zamzow:   “The science on vaccination in dogs, cats and horses was not fully explored or taught at the time we were in school.  I graduated in 1990. At that time, Dr. Ron Schulz had already done the research showing that there was no scientific basis for yearly vaccination in dogs and cats.  Why was this not emphasized?  For years I questioned this practice, knowing that there could not be any reason other than fear and financial gain for yearly or even every three year vaccines in dogs and cats.  Part of my disillusionment with veterinary school is due to this obvious oversight in teaching about the science of vaccines and the immune system interactions and what is best for our patients.” 

Dr Patricia Jordan, holistic veterinarian and vaccine researcher:  “We had no training on vaccination – even those teaching us didn’t know. I wasn’t taught very much in immunology either. This is why Dr. Ron Schultz says, and I agree with him,  that veterinary medical doctors have no business making vaccine recommendations as they do not have enough education in vaccinology or immunology. Unfortunately that also goes for those teaching the senior students! I would carry this over to the medical doctors and pediatricians. None of them should be making vaccine recommendations. I wouldn’t allow the vaccine companies to make the call either. Nor the regulatory agencies since they don’t even know what it is they are regulating/licensing. This is the inconvenient truth.”

Dr Ronna S Kabler:  “My training on the vaccine issue was completely inadequate.  We learned the science of immunology and how vaccines work, but no science as relates to the actual practice of vaccinating animals.  As a new vet in private practice, it was like one was brainwashed or on autopilot. It was as if any immunology training was quickly forgotten.  ‘All dogs and cats needed their immunizations in a timely manner.’  There was no thought that we were possibly doing any damage.” 

Dr Liz Fernandez:  “We weren’t taught adequately about vaccines in vet school.  We were told that we could not over-vaccinate: ‘better safe than sorry’.  We were given information on virology but not on how vaccines actually work or any studies or rigorous research data.  We did get the information on hive like reactions in a very small subset of the population. “In retrospect, vaccine reactions were staring right at me.  However, I was very brainwashed into believing that they were safe (except for the obvious type 1 hypersensitivity reaction) so I did not connect the dots.”

Dr Ihor Basko:  “We weren’t taught adequately on immunology; immunology is very difficult to understand.  Vaccine companies influence how this is taught.”

Dr Christina Chambreau:  “Our training was incomplete and confusing.  We learned about long lasting immunity in immunology, but later in clinics were told to give yearly. We were not taught to learn and question – just to memorize.  Since becoming an integrative veterinarian, I can say there is no disease that I have not connected to vaccines in certain animals.”

Dr Judy Jasek:  “My training was different to what I have come to believe is appropriate in my own practice.  We were trained in vaccination protocols per veterinary school and manufacturer recommendations.  We were not, however, educated in the potential long-term effects of vaccinations.”

Dorothea Hofman BVSc (Hons) IVAS:  “I don’t believe my training in vaccination was adequate at college.  Other options and the side effects of vaccination were never mentioned – only the ‘benefits’ of vaccination were ever discussed.” What is clear is that vets have been misled by their training, and by colleges which rely upon industry funding.  The colleges themselves are being let down by governments which make it necessary for them to rely upon industry funding.  It’s time we pet owners stood up for the animals.

Vaccines Save Lives – so it’s hard to pay attention to the flip side

There are very few subjects that can cause so much controversy, anger and enmity than the vaccine issue.  If you’ve seen a dog suffer from distemper or parvovirus, you’re unlikely to want to even hear from people who warn of the dangers of over-vaccination.  But the honest truth is that your dog could be suffering from a vaccine reaction now, or have died from a vaccine adverse effect, without you even knowing it.

Dr W Jean Dodds is one of the world’s foremost veterinary vaccine researchers, with a career spanning over 40 years.  She is highly respected within the veterinary profession.  Dr Dodds writes: “Whilst I was always a clinical research scientist, veterinary  colleagues and pet owners would tell me about malaise and illness that appeared shortly after pet animals were vaccinated. This was in addition to the rare case of anaphylaxis induced by vaccination. They spoke about irritability, low-grade or even high fever, anorexia, stiffness, occasional seizure-like episodes. These usually occurred from 2-10 days post-vaccination, sometimes longer (up to 45 days). 

 “The clinical signs associated with vaccine reactions typically include fever, stiffness, sore joints and abdominal tenderness, susceptibility to infections, neurological disorders and encephalitis, collapse with autoagglutinated red blood cells and icterus (autoimmune hemolytic anemia) (AIHA), or generalized petechiae and ecchymotic hemorrhages (immune-mediated thrombocytopenia) (ITP).1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 12, 13

“Hepatic enzymes may be markedly elevated, and liver or kidney failure may occur by itself or accompany bone marrow suppression.  Furthermore, MLV vaccination has been associated with the development of transient seizures in puppies and adult dogs of breeds or cross-breeds susceptible to immune-mediated diseases especially those involving hematologic or endocrine tissues (e.g. AIHA, ITP, autoimmune thyroiditis). 1,7,10 Post-vaccinal polyneuropathy is a recognized entity associated occasionally with the use of distemper, parvovirus, rabies and presumably other vaccines. 2, 3, 7  This can result in various clinical  signs including muscular atrophy, inhibition or interruption of neuronal control of tissue and organ function, muscular excitation, incoordination and weakness, as well as seizures. 7 “Certain breeds or families of dogs appear to be more susceptible to adverse vaccine reactions, particularly post-vaccinal seizures, high fevers, and painful episodes of hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD). 7,9  Vaccination of pet and research dogs with polyvalent vaccines containing rabies virus or rabies vaccine alone was recently shown to induce production of antithyroglobulin autoantibodies, a provocative and important finding with implications for the subsequent development of hypothyroidism. 10 “Furthermore,injection site fibrosarcomas have recently been documented in dogs as well as cats, and other cancers such as leukemia have been vaccine-associated.” 7,18

Dr Dodds continues:  “If I was in private practice today, I would only use a conservative puppy or kitten series (2-3 doses only) of vaccines: one before 12 weeks in puppies and 10 weeks in kittens; and a second between 14-16 weeks in puppies and 12-14 weeks in kittens. All vaccines should be 3-4 weeks apart.  I would not vaccinate beyond the puppy and kitten series, and I would not worry about income impact, regardless, as our veterinary oath requires that we “do no harm”.  Judicious use of vaccines is paramount. “I totally embrace my profession and always have, but the pharmaceutical industry has considerable influence on it; there is a huge marketing effort here – that’s their job. We are the ones that need to ‘sift’ this information appropriately. We, the consumer professionals, have allowed this influence to go unchecked.  It’s time for senior members of our profession to step up and place controls on the commercial influence upon relatively naive veterinary students and new graduates. This influence is even stronger in the pet food and supplements industry.  The government also needs to be more proactive and keep up to date.” 

Please also see: WSAVA Vaccine Guidelines and what you need to know about canine and feline vaccination

1.       Dodds WJ. Immune-mediated diseases of the blood.  Adv Vet Sci Comp Med 1983; 27:163-196. 2.       Phillips TR, Jensen JL, Rubino MJ, Yang WC, Schultz RD.  Effects on vaccines on the canine immune system.  Can J Vet Res 1989; 53: 154-160. 3.       Tizard I. Risks associated with use of live vaccines. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1990; 196:1851-1858. 4.       Duval D, Giger U. Vaccine-associated immune-mediated hemolytic anemia in the dog. J Vet Int Med 1996;10: 290-295. 5.       Cohen AD, Shoenfeld Y. Vaccine-induced autoimmunity.  J Autoimmunity 1996; 9: 699-703. 6.       Schultz R. Current and future canine and feline vaccination programs. Vet Med 1998; 93:233-254. 7.       Dodds WJ. More bumps on the vaccine road. Adv Vet Med 1999; 41: 715-732. 8.       HogenEsch H, Azcona-Olivera J, Scott-Moncrieff C, Snyder PW, Glickman LT. Vaccine-induced autoimmunity in the dog. Adv Vet Med 1999; 41:733-744. 9.       Dodds WJ.  Vaccination protocols for dogs predisposed to vaccine reactions. J Am An Hosp Assoc 2001; 38: 1-4.
10.   Scott-Moncrieff JC, Azcona-Olivera J, Glickman NW, Glickman LT, HogenEsch H. Evaluation of  antithyroglobulin antibodies after routine vaccination in pet and research dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002; 221: 515-521. 11.   Paul MA (chair) et al. Report of the AAHA Canine Vaccine Task Force: 2003 canine vaccine guidelines, recommendations, and supporting literature. AAHA, April 2003, 28 pp. 12.   May C, Hammill J, Bennett, D.   Chinese shar pei fever syndrome: A preliminary report. Vet Rec 1992;131: 586-587. 13.   Scott-Moncrieff JC, Snyder PW, Glickman LT, Davis EL, Felsburg PJ.  Systemic necrotizing vasculitis in nine young beagles.  J Am Vet Med Assoc 1992; 201: 1553-1558. 14.   Dodds WJ. Estimating disease prevalence with health surveys and genetic screening. Adv Vet Sci Comp Med 1995; 39: 29-96. 15.   Wilbur LA, Evermann JF, Levings RL, Stoll LR, Starling DE, Spillers CA, Gustafson GA, McKeirnan AJ.  Abortion and death in pregnant bitches associated with a canine vaccine contaminated with blue tongue virus.  J Am Vet Med Assoc 1994; 204:1762-1765. 16.   Day MJ, Penhale WJ. Immune-mediated disease in the old English sheepdog. Res Vet Sci 1992;53: 87-92. 17.   Dougherty SA, Center SA. Juvenile onset polyarthritis in Akitas. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1991; 198: 849-855.  18.   Vascellari M, Melchiotti E, Bozza MA et al. Fibrosarcomas at presumed sites of injection in dogs: characteristics and comparison with non-vaccination site fibrosarcomas and feline post-vaccinal firosarcomas.  J Vet Med 50 (6): 286-291, 2003.   19.   Twark L, Dodds WJ. Clinical use of serum parvovirus and distemper virus antibody titers for determining revaccination strategies in healthy dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000; 217:1021-1024. 20.   Flemming DD, Scott JF. The informed consent doctrine: what veterinarians should tell their clients. J Am Vet Med Assoc 224: 1436-1439, 2004. 21.   Klingborg DJ, Hustead DR, Curry-Galvin E, et al.  AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents’ report on cat and dog vaccines.  J  Am Vet Med Assoc 221: 1401-1407, 2002. 22.   Schultz RD, Ford RB, Olsen J, Scott F.  Titer testing and vaccination: a new look at traditional practices. Vet Med, 97: 1-13, 2002 (insert). 23.   Moore et al, Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs.  J  Am Vet Med Assoc 227:1102–1108, 2005.

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2 Responses to Vets on Vaccines: Inadequate Education

  1. Recommended Links - Agile Paws Dog Sports on March 10, 2015 at 8:16 am

    […] Vets on Vaccines: Inadequate Education […]

  2. Dr.Jagdish Mittal on October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Very nice and informative.In real sense Vets need proper education before they are put for pet vaccinations.In time to come we need one vaccine for many diseases.

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