Norfolk, VIrginia’s MyCityTalk.com has an article entitled "The Truth About Pet Vaccinations". It’s basically the same as hundreds or thousands of other articles available on the internet purporting to try to set the unwary pet-owning public straight about pet vaccines. Here are some of the highlights.
The evidence against vaccinating, however, is overwhelming.
- What evidence? Someone’s commentary? Sure, there are hundreds of those. Real scientific proof? Nope. No one is going to dispute that vaccine reactions and other problems can occur. That’s clear. At the same time, vaccines clearly save lives and reduce illness. There is certainly a cost-benefit to consider, but non-evidence-based statements like this don’t help. The risks and benefits do need to be considered when designing a vaccination program. Real evidence should be used, however.
It is more and more common to see cancer in dogs and cats under 5 years of age. Autoimmune diseases are on the rise as well.
- Maybe, although you have to be careful interpreting that. We have much better diagnostic tests now and can detect diseases we couldn’t diagnose before. Also, animals that are alive because they didn’t die of an infectious disease are able to develop these conditions. You cannot simply attribute such a trend to modern vaccine practices without looking at the other factors that may be involved.
Vaccinations do help prevent serious illnesses, but they should be used with restraint. Before vaccinating, consider the risk.
- Absolutely. Best piece of advice in the article.
If your cat is indoor only and will never be exposed to unvaccinated animals, the risk of infection is low.
- While the risk of exposure is LOWER for indoor cats, it’s not zero. It’s amazing how many "indoor" cats come into vet clinics after being hit by a car or getting into a fight with a wild animal. Indoor cats can escape. Also, other animals can get inside, particularly bats – a source of rabies exposure.
Request individual vaccines and vaccinate at least three weeks apart if possible.
- There’s little to no evidence that using combination vaccines is a bad thing for your average pet. Also, individual vaccines aren’t available for all diseases. Further, if you only vaccinate for one disease at a time and space them three weeks apart, it’s going to take a longer time to have an animal with protective immunity. It makes it a lot more expensive too.
If your cats go outside and you have rabies in your area, give a rabies vaccine at six months of age.
- This sentence should start at "give." Every animal in an area where rabies may be present must be vaccinated, regardless of whether it goes outside.
Vaccinations do not need “boosting”
- Says who? This is a generalization that can cause problems. For some vaccines in some animals, a single dose may be adequate, but it’s certainly not true for all. Some vaccines work better than others. Some diseases are more amenable to good vaccination prevention. Some vaccines are probably good for a long time, if not life-long. But not all of them.
Simple blood tests can determine if your companion’s antibody levels for parvovirus and distemper remain high enough to resist infection.
- Nope. You can determine antibody levels but no one really knows how to interpret them (i.e. what level means the animal will be protected). Antibodies are only one component of vaccine protection.
The currently licensed leptospira bacterins do not contain the serovars causing the majority of clinical leptospirosis today, so it is generally not a useful vaccine.
- That’s true for certain areas. In some regions, the vaccines strains are protective for the strains causing disease.
Homeopathic Nosodes are an alternative some guardians are using when choosing not to vaccinate.
- There is no evidence whatsoever that nosodes do anything but make money for people who sell them.
They (nosodes) do not produce titers against these diseases like a vaccination.
- That’s because they don’t do anything.
Never vaccinate a sick or weakened animal.
- Good advice.
Educate yourself. Your veterinarian cannot make this decision for you, nor should they. You are your companion’s guardian. It is your responsibility to give them the best care you can by researching and carefully weighing your decisions about their healthcare.
- That’s true. However, you need to make sure you get good advice from all sources. You should consult with your vet and feel free to ask any questions. You should also scrutinize information available on the internet. Vaccination recommendations have changed in recent years, with longer intervals between boosters, and they certainly may change further as we learn more. I’m perfectly happy stretching out vaccine intervals based on good data. My pets don’t get vaccinated every year. The key is to base decisions and changes on evidence so that we maintain the effectiveness of this critical disease-prevention tool.
The original source of the article was actually the Healthy Pet Journal, an online "journal" (site) published by a holistic/naturopathic veterinarian (who of course runs a clinic specializing in such services). Always consider the source of what you’re reading and the potential biases that come along with it.