“Spurred by consumer concerns” Delaware and Minnesota are considering legistation to help prevent over-vaccination of pets.  Here is more information on the concerns of vaccinations for our pets.

Excerpts from VIN News Service“In Delaware, state Sen. Karen Peterson has introduced legislation that would subject veterinarians to disciplinary action if they vaccinate animals more often than is recommended by vaccine manufacturers.

Concerns in Delaware and Minnesota about over-vaccination center around the practice by some small-animal veterinarians of administering every one or two years rabies vaccines that have been proven to be effective for three years.

Peterson said her attention was drawn to the issue by Diane Meier, whose 5-year-old apparently healthy beagle, Molly, died in January shortly after a routine checkup at Savannah Animal Hospital in Lewes, Del., where the dog received shots for rabies and distemper. Shortly afterward, Molly became lethargic, unresponsive and glassy-eyed, according to Meier.

“I took Molly back to the vet twice and was told that they could not tell from the exam, blood work or X-rays what was wrong with her,” Meier said. “I asked if it could be the rabies shot and was told ‘no.’” Within about a week, she said, Molly died.

Later, after examining Molly’s medical record with a veterinarian in a different clinic, Meier said she became aware that Molly had been given a three-year rabies vaccine — IMRAB 3 TF made by Merial — each year for the past two years.

What upsets Meier is that her veterinarian didn’t volunteer information about the type of vaccine being used and the reason for giving boosters more frequently than recommended on the label. “I’m not an uneducated person,” she said. “I am very risk-averse and I am very interested in the health of my animals. But I trusted (veterinarians). I trusted them to be doing no harm. It’s agonizing to me. Why do we have to be experts on rabies-vaccine duration? Why can’t we trust our vets?”

According to the 2011 Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control published by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc., 14 rabies vaccine products for dogs and 17 for cats are licensed and marketed in the United States. Almost all come in one- and three-year versions. (The exception is Continuum Rabies, which has been shown to be effective in cats for four years.)

The array of offerings is produced by four companies: Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.; Pfizer, Inc.; Merial, Inc.; and Merck Animal Health, owner of what used to be the separate companies Intervet and Schering-Plough Animal Health.

The difference between one- and three-year formulations is, in many cases, little to nothing, according to scientists familiar with the manufacture and testing of vaccines.

Ronald Schultz, professor and chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and an authority on veterinary vaccines, supports rules controlling the frequency with which veterinarians administer vaccines.

Vaccines “do have components in them that can cause hypersensitivity reactions and so forth,” he said. “So you never give a vaccine more often than is needed.”

The following is a video presented by Dr. Patricia Jordan regarding safety of vaccines…

For more information on the safety of rabies vaccines, visit The Rabies Challenge Fund website.

(On a side note, it is not only our pets that are pushed to be over vaccinated.  Recently, I took a fall (raised section of sidewalk + flip flops = fall on face).  I skinned my face up pretty bad.  While at the doctor (making sure I didn’t break anything), I was asked about my last tetnus shot.  My last tetnus was about six years ago, but the nurse told me that with a wound like mine, ‘they’ recommend getting another vaccination.  A few moments later, the nurse returns with my shot.  He said it included Whopping Cough, Pertussis, something I don’t remember, and tetnus.  I said no; much to the surprise of the nurse.)

Ask questions.  Ask if the rabies vaccine is a one-year or three-year.  Ask what the difference is – exactly – between the two.  If your pet needs multiple vaccines, most experts concerned with over-vaccination recommend at least a two week interval between shots.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible

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