W. Jean Dodds, DVM and Ronald D. Schultz, PhD
There is little doubt that application of modern vaccine technology has permitted us to protect companion animals effectively against serious infectious diseases. Today, we can question conventional vaccine regimens and adopt effective and safe alternatives primarily because the risk of disease has been significantly reduced by the widespread use of vaccination programs, which convey underlying population or herd immunity.
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 significant controversy. A “more is better” philosophy still prevails with regard to pet vaccines.
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.” Another reason for the reluctance to change current vaccination programs is many practitioners really don’t understand the principles of vaccinal immunity. Clearly, the accumulated evidence indicates that vaccination protocols should no longer be considered as a “one size fits all” program.