To vaccinate or not?

To vaccinate or not?

An occasional challenging consult room conversation is the necessity of vaccination, either driven due to the fear of vaccine related side effects, the reduction in prevalence of the diseases we vaccinate for, or due to people believing it’s just a money making exercise for the vets.

Firstly, legitimate vaccine reactions are very low at around 0.05%. An independent study performed by the world famous Animal Health Trust could not find statistical evidence that vaccinated dogs suffered more ill health.

When reactions occur, they are generally mild such as a short lived fever, and often these are due to a concomitant illness.

Occasionally we see more serious vaccine reactions like anaphylaxis (I’ve not seen this in my 13 year career), tumours forming at the site of the injection or the body’s immune system being tricked into attacking itself. But these are very rare.

We do see less cases of what we vaccinate for, so the threat is lower, but this is partly due to vaccination being an accepted necessity. (General better health and nutrition of our animals nowadays heavily influences these statistics as well .)

But pockets outbreaks of parvovirus and distemper (which is spread dog to dog) are still seen where large numbers of dogs are not protected.

An additional component of our routine vaccination protocol is leptospirosis protection, which is “caught” from the environment, as it is spread by rats urine. Thus its prevalence and threat can not be heavily affected by vaccinating. Plus we can become infected through exposure to our own dogs, so yearly vaccinating is essential.

As for vaccinating being a good income for vets, I would have to agree, the need to vaccinate does add to our footfall. But it is during these routine vaccinations that we pick up other unnoticed ailments such as heart murmurs, dental disease, skin tumours etc, and we answer general health and nutritional questions.

It is not often that an owner doesn’t get their money’s worth from the consultation.

Vaccinating your pet is essential. Please speak to your vet for more advice.

by Hannah Capon
New Priory Vets Brighton