Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ontario Canada
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You might have noticed that rabies vaccines are labeled for either one year or three years. What is the difference between the two vaccines? The answer is that there is no difference. It is the exact same vaccine.
Veterinary immunologist Dr. Ronald Schultz states: “There is no benefit from annual rabies vaccination and most one year rabies products are similar or identical to the 3-year products with regard to duration of immunity and effectiveness. However, if they are 1 year rabies vaccines, they must be legally given annually! Rabies vaccine is the only canine vaccine requiring a minimum duration of immunity study. However, revaccination annually does not necessarily improve immunity. However, annual vaccination does significantly increase the risk for an adverse reaction in the dog.”
The annual revaccination recommendation on the vaccine label is just that: a recommendation without the backing of long term duration of immunity studies, and, surprisingly, it is not a legal requirement. Rabies vaccine is the only commonly used vaccine that requires that duration of immunity studies be carried out before licensing in the United States. Even with rabies vaccines, the label may be misleading in that a three year duration of immunity product may also be labeled and sold as a one year duration of immunity product .In 2009, Alabama became the last state to allow dog owners to vaccinate their dogs every three years instead of annually. Dr. Dee Jones, Alabama Public Health Veterinarian states that veterinarians may use rabies vaccine “in accordance to its label” in a letter written to state vets. “The state is now recognizing and accepting the use of a three-year vaccine that is labeled for such,” he wrote. “However, it is worth belaboring that the state is not mandating the use of three-year vaccine. The decision to use a one-year or a three-year rabies vaccine lies entirely with the veterinarian and the animal owner.”
Despite Dr. Schultz’s efforts at educating veterinarians, your veterinarian is allowed to inject your dog annually with what is essentially a three year vaccine. This means he gets all of the risk and none of the benefit. Before you give your vet the benefit of the doubt when he urges you to vaccinate annually, consider what Dr. Schultz has to say about how well most veterinarians understand immunity. Dr. Schultz states: “many practitioners really don’t understand the principles of vaccinal immunity. A significant number of practitioners believe the annual revaccination recommendation on the vaccine label is evidence the product provides immunity for (only) one year. This is simply not true. Many practitioners also believe that they are legally required to vaccinate annually and if they don’t they will not be covered by AVMA liability insurance if the animal develops a vaccine preventable disease – Not True. Furthermore, certain companies will not provide assistance if practitioners don’t vaccinate annually with core vaccines. Not True – In fact most of the companies have now demonstrated their core products provide at least 3 years of immunity.
Some vets have suggested that giving a vaccine annually that has a duration of immunity of 3 or more years provides much better immunity than if the product is given only once during the three years. – Not True. As well as regional/state rabies programs that suggest annual rabies vaccination programs provide better protection than revaccination once every three years regardless of whether a 1 year or 3 year rabies product is used. – Not True
“It’s much cheaper to revaccinate the pet annually than it is to treat the disease the animal will develop because it didn’t get revaccinated annually.” The “better safe than sorry” philosophy – If a vaccine is given that is not needed and it causes an adverse reaction that is unacceptable and very expensive.
Some have cited they need to revaccinate all new dogs/cats coming to their clinic irrespective of vaccination history even when vaccination records are available from another clinic. Presumably the “other clinic” used the wrong vaccine or didn’t know how to vaccinate. – Not True
“Dogs need to be revaccinated annually up to 5 to 7 years of age, then and only then would vaccination every three years be okay.” – Not True
Dave and Molly
Ian Dunbar was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from I.P.D.T.A. Here's a picture of me accepting the award on his behalf.
Member of IAABC ,International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants , Member of Pet Professional Guild