Shots in the Pipeline

“With the exception of rabies vaccine, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t require data beyond one year for any vaccine”

How come?

As a health professional, I support regular vaccinations for humans. (Don’t get me started . . . oh well, I’ve started).

1. Vaccinations don’t make you sick. If you get the “flu”—many confuse cold and abdominal symptoms with influenza symptoms and they are not exactly the same—a week after you get your annual flu shot in October or November or whenever, then you were already exposed. So, sorry about that. (I will not even give space to the ridiculous claim that routine infant vaccinations cause autism).

2. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is not the evil empire from a death star. The FDA came into being in 1906. Mis- or unlabeled patent medicines and an appalling lack of sanitation in food production was killing people. You may be happy to know that women brought these threats to the attention of the U.S. government; they came out marching to protect their families. (The over-the-counter supplement industry is currently guilty of mislabeling and making claims not backed by science. A failing of the FDA is lack of oversight in this matter).

As a devoted dog and cat lover, I’ve questioned the need for the annual visit to the vet for shots.

I just didn’t know the science behind it. A quick perusal of PetMD and other sites indicates immunity for most canine and feline vaccinations is longer than just one year. But how can we be sure?

“ . . . the potential returns for animal vaccine producers are much less than those for human vaccines, with lower sales prices and smaller market sizes, resulting in a much lower investment in research and development in the animal vaccine area than in the human vaccine area . . .” – Clinical Microbiology Review, July, 2007.

Hmm. Profit.

But that’s not the whole story. Veterinarians feel they have a fiduciary responsibility to bring companion animals back on at least a yearly basis to assess for health problems. Bring them back for their annual vaccinations—and we can see how the animal is doing! However, it is likely best for keepers of companion animals to better understand exactly which vaccinations make sense—especially keepers on a budget.

The website lays out the need for pet vaccinations in a reasonably understandable way. Some vaccines are just fine to give every three years—combine these with your every-three-year rabies vaccination, which is a must-have immunity for every dog and cat.

For dogs there is a class of pathogens that are not so cooperative, and may, depending on where you live and whether your particular animal is at high risk, require annual boosts. Bordetella, parainfluenza, canine influenza (a new one!), lyme disease (spread by white-tailed deer ticks) and leptosporosis (water and feces) are infections whose percentage of risk depends on where you live and what environment your dog spends time in.

Vaccination prophylaxis for cats is even more complicate. Feline panleukopenia (this is not feline leukemia), feline herpes, and feline calicivirus (huh?) immunizations give a 3-year immunity after a boost for 1-year-old cat—so, every 3 years is fine. Feline leukemia vaccinations can be administered every 2 to 3 years, depending upon which professional source you consult.

More and more, I realize the reason I write blogs simply boils down to study. I’m no longer in school, I’m retired, and so writing words that are going out to (hopefully) a bunch of readers forces me to learn new things. Accuracy in information is critical, especially not that we have free access to the Internet-fueled pipeline of insanity. No, you can’t get the corona virus (more properly named Covid 19 because there are dozens of corona viruses out there and they are all not the same) from mail or Chinese restaurants.

My questions about annual vaccinations for my pets have been answered. Vets need to be clear to their patients’ keepers about their animals’ needs. And companion animal owners need to be more proactive.

The pipeline can help—or hinder—that proactivity. Good luck and stay well.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Shots in the Pipeline — 4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this information, I will talk to my vet about what my cats need when they go in for their one year checkup.

  2. The vet that I use doesn’t vaccinate against everything every year, they really are pretty good about keeping up to date and about managing to get their money without doing things like giving unnecessary boosters.