I would like to make you aware that all of the 27 vet schools in North America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating dogs and cats. Some of this information will present an ethical and economic challenge to vets, and there will be skeptics. Some organizations have come up with a political compromise suggesting vaccinations every 3 years to appease those who fear loss of income vs. those concerned about potential side effects. Politics, traditions, or the doctors' economic well-being should not be a factor in a medical decision.
NEW PRINCIPLES OF IMMUNOLOGY
Dogs and cats' immune systems mature fully at 6 months of age. If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months, it produces immunity which is GOOD FOR THE LIFE OF THE PET (ie. canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect.
The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory cells induced. Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the animal to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated haemolytic anemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccinations. Puppies receive antibodies through their mother's milk. This natural protection can last 8 to 14 weeks. Puppies and kittens should NOT be vaccinated at less than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced. Vaccination at 86 weeks will, however, DELAY the timing of the first highly effective vaccine.
A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age. Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year 4 months) will provide LIFETIME IMMUNITY.
Age of Pup Vaccine Type
6 weeks (range could be 5 1/2-6 1/2 weeks but not earlier) Distemper + measles (without hepatitis)
7 1/2 weeks and 10 1/2 weeks (same product each time) Killed or modified-live parvorvirus* given 3-4 weeks apart
8 weeks and 10 weeks for pups not receiving measles earlier Distemper + parvovirus +- hepatitis -?????
12 weeks Distemper + hepatitis + parainfluenza (without parvovirus, if possible)*
14 weeks and 18-20 weeks (same product each time) Distemper + hepatitis + parainfluenza + killed or modified-live parvovirus*
16-24 weeks Killed rabies vaccine
*During parvovirus epidemics or for highly susceptible breeds such as Rottweilers,
newer modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines that provide more complete immunity
and override maternal immunity are advisable.
" An Annual booster using distemper + hepatitis + parainfluenza + killed or MLV parvovirus is given at one year of age. Thereafter, boosters are given every 3 years until old age. Beyond 10 years of age, booster vaccinations are generally not needed and may be unwise if aging or other diseases are present. For animals at high exposure risk to parvovirus disease, an additional parvovirus vaccination can be given at the 6-month point, if killed parvovirus is used. This extra booster is typically not needed if MLV is used.
" I use only killed 3-year rabies vaccine for adults an give it separated from other vaccines by at least 2 and preferably 3-4 weeks. A booster at one year of age is usually required followed by every 3 years thereafter.
" I do not use Bordetella, corona virus, leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines unless these diseases are endemic in the local area or specific kennel. Furthermore, the currently licensed leptospira bacterins do not contain the servovars causing the majority of clinical leptospirosis today.
" I do not recommend vaccinating bitches during estrus, pregnancy or lactation.
" I recommend that distemper-measles vaccine be given without hepatitis between 6-8 weeks, because of the reported suppression of lymphocyte responsiveness induced by polyvalent canine distemper and adenovirus vaccines (Phillips et at., Van J Vet Res 1989; 53: 154-160).
" For animals previously experiencing adverse vaccine reactions or breeds at higher risk for such reactions (e.g. Weimaraner, Akita, American Eskimo, Great Dane), alternatives to booster vaccinations should be considered. These include avoiding boosters except rabies vaccine as required by law; annual measuring serum antibody titers against specific canine infectious agents, such as distemper and parvovirus; and homeopathic nosodes. [This last option is considered an unconventional treatments that has not been scientifically proven to be effeicacious. One controlled parvovirus nosode study did not adequately protect puppies under challenge conditions. However, data from Europe and clinical experience in North America support its use. If veterinarians choose to use homeopathic nosodes, their clients should be provided with an appropriate disclaimer and written informed consent should be obtained.]