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There has been much debate on vaccination protocols for companion animals in recent years. Expert groups have produced vaccination guidelines, but there are areas where their advice differs from that provided by manufacturers and regulators. A session in the ‘controversies’ stream at this year's BSAVA congress in Birmingham considered the topic from different perspectives. Catherine Jacob reports
MICHAEL Day, from the University of Bristol and chair of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association's scientific committee as well as its vaccination guidelines group (VGG), was the first to speak.
Vets had been vaccinating companion animals for more than 40 years and, he noted, ‘for most of that time, we've been using a very simple protocol’, with animals being vaccinated ‘against everything’ annually. However, many of the core vaccines recommended for all dogs – against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus – as well as the core feline panleukopenia vaccine for cats, now had three- or four-year licences. Non-core vaccines were required annually, but only by animals deemed to be at risk.
The recognition of feline injection site sarcomas over 20 years ago had provided ‘one of the first inklings that vaccination may have some safety issues related to it’, Professor Day said. An example in dogs was the triggering of a spectrum of immune-mediated disorders. Looking at recent vaccination data from the UK and USA, it could be seen that adverse reactions occurred in only a small percentage of cases. Although vaccination appeared to be an incredibly safe procedure, ‘we can't be complacent, because just occasionally adverse reactions are documented,’ he said.
Analysis of data on the frequency of adverse reactions had been one driver for change in vaccination protocols; another had come from ‘our clients, the general public and, more importantly, the media’. Concerns about human vaccine safety …
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