National Unnecessary Vaccination Month?

This month is Intervet's National Vaccination Month. The scheme offers a discounted 'starter' series for pets whose vaccines have lapsed by 18 months or more.
But do pets really need to start all over again with their shots after a gap? Won't the vast majority have certainly retained enough immunity to just need at the most a booster?
I thought that vaccines had been proven to last very much longer than we'd all been led to believe and that some more enlightened manufacturers have even changed their data sheets to say clearly that theirs were effective for three years.
Some vaccines are better than others - for example Lepto shots tend to be very poor and often don't last even six months - plus they only cover a fraction of the strains. But other more modern vaccines are incredibly effective and could last a lifetime in some cases without any reboosting.
So is blanket annual vaccination a waste of money and potentially bombarding our pets with unnecessary challenges to their immune system? Is this national attempt to convince people to start their vaccinations again from scratch with a full course a step too far?
Thirty three vets and doctors have signed a letter to outlining their concerns with Intervet's vaccination campaign.
Canine Health Concern's Catherine O'Driscoll says, "We understand that everyone wants their pets to be protected against deadly viral diseases. But we are asking that vets stop promoting and administering unnecessary boosters."
Concerned pet owners have signed another letter, asking that the veterinary profession, regulatory bodies, pet charities and government stop promoting or facilitating unnecessary and potentially harmful vaccines. Many of the signatories have signed on behalf of the dogs who they believe were made ill, or died, as a result of unnecessary shots.
Although three-year vaccines are now licensed, many vets are sticking with vaccines that have been licensed for only one year.
Here is the letter from the vets:

Dear Beverley

We are writing in connection with a current marketing campaign by Intervet, a veterinary vaccine manufacturer, supported by veterinarians throughout the UK. The campaign – National Vaccination Month – promotes the vaccination of dogs, cats and rabbits and is to run throughout June.

We are concerned that, within the promotion, animals can be given a full ‘restart’ vaccine series for the price of a booster. For example, dogs whose vaccines have not been boosted within the last eighteen months are offered a full puppy series for the price of a normal booster. This seems to imply that if a pet is six months ‘overdue’ on its annual booster, they have to start again.

We, the undersigned, query the science and safety of such a promotion, refute the need for annual vaccination, and call for the proper education of vets in practice so that animals are not needlessly subjected to potential vaccine reactions. We also call for long-overdue legislation in this matter from the British government.

Pet vaccines are effective for at least seven years, and probably for life

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have announced publicly that annual vaccination is neither necessary nor without harm. These pronouncements are based upon the known and current science, namely that dogs and cats, once immune to viral disease, are immune for years or life. No added protection is conferred by re-vaccination. These statements are supported by scientific duration of immunity studies.

We must point out that the veterinary associations named above, by publicly announcing that annual vaccination is unnecessary, are potentially significantly reducing the booster income of their members, and so they would not make these pronouncements lightly.

These organisations recommend that “vaccines should not be given needlessly”.

The government fails to act

The British government, through the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the Veterinary Products Committee, has allowed veterinary vaccine manufacturers to hide behind licenses that require only minimum duration of immunity studies. Thus, for years, the manufacturers have been facilitated to sell unnecessary and potentially harmful annual boosters simply because annual boosters haven’t been tested for longer by manufacturers. This is despite the work that has been done internationally by independent scientists, and despite correspondence with the VMD and successive Defra Ministers to alert them to the known science. Latterly, a few of the veterinary vaccine manufacturers have licensed their products for three years – but even this is an arguable practice, since independent studies show that the MLV vaccines protect for many years longer.

As a result, vets in practice routinely encourage clients to bring their pets for unnecessary annual boosters. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, as well as the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, appear to do nothing to educate their members with regard to the known duration of immunity for viral vaccines.

Similarly, insurance companies and boarding kennels frequently demand that animals are vaccinated yearly, despite the fact that this practice is neither necessary nor safe. Kennels, in turn, are forced by local councils to demand proof of annual vaccination from pet owners. Councils, who grant licenses to kennels, are themselves advised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Pet owners are therefore forced from several directions, despite the known science, to subject their pets to unnecessary vaccine risks.

The science

The WSAVA guidelines recommend: “We should aim to vaccinate every animal, and to vaccinate each individual less frequently.” These international guidelines also recommend that, “we should aim to reduce the ‘vaccine load’ on individual animals in order to minimise the potential for adverse reactions to vaccine products”.

The WSAVA guidelines advise that dogs properly vaccinated with MLV core CDV, CPV-2 and CAV-2 vaccines (distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus) “would have 98% protection from disease. Similarly we would expect a very high protection from infection”. They recommend that dogs should not be vaccinated more frequently than every three years, but that immunity to viral disease lasts for at least seven years, but probably for life. This is based on direct challenge studies, and on serology.

It should be noted that a small percentage of the dog population, notably amongst the black and tan breeds, are unable to acquire immunity, whether or not they are vaccinated. Neither does it matter how many times you vaccinate these dogs – they just don’t acquire immunity.

The WSAVA guidelines also define non-core vaccines, which are “those that are required by only those animals whose geographical location, local environment or lifestyle places them at risk of contracting specific infections. For example, dogs boarded at kennels may need additional vaccination for kennel cough. However, given the possibility of adverse reaction to vaccination, pet owners should consult with their veterinarian to assess risk-benefit ratios, and consider very carefully if their pet actually needs any non-core vaccines.”

According to the Fact Sheets for the WSAVA Dog and Cat Vaccination Guidelines, duration of immunity after vaccination with MLV core vaccines is 7 years or longer, based on challenge and serological studies, for Canine Parvovirus Type 2 (CPV-2), Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2) and Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) vaccines.

The WSAVA guidelines also note: “Most vaccinated dogs will have a persistence of serum antibody (against core vaccine antigens) for many years. For core vaccines there is excellent correlation between the presence of antibody and protective immunity and there is long DOI (duration of immunity) for these products.”

Dr Ronald D Schultz, head of pathobiology at Wisconsin University, and the man behind the DOI studies, has stated that, in his view, dogs can be considered safe if vaccinated as puppies and then once after the age of six months of age, at which time their immune systems are mature. They need not be vaccinated again. Dr Schultz does not support the use of the Leptospirosis vaccine (deemed a non-core vaccine), as it is known to be ineffective and comes with the most severe adverse reactions.

When pet owners over-vaccinate their pets, they spend their money unnecessarily and they are frequently then required to spend even more money dealing with the after-effects of unnecessary vaccinations. Money, of course, is not the main point: human beings are making dogs and cats ill, and promoting early death.

Vaccine damage

We attach an article which gives scientific references with regard to vaccine adverse events.

Vaccines are known to cause vaccinated dogs (but not non-vaccinated dogs) to develop autoantibodies to their own DNA (Larry Glickman et al, Purdue University). This means that vaccines cause dogs to attack their own genetic blueprint. Each time we vaccinate, we risk introducing further genetic defects into dogs, which are passed down the line.

Vaccines are known to cause T cell immunodeficiencies, which are also inheritable and associated with heart disease. Combine T cell immunodeficiencies with B cell immunodeficiencies (which are also inheritable), then you have animals which are predisposed to respond to vaccines with inflammatory/allergic and immune-mediated conditions like dermatitis, arthritis, epilepsy, brain damage, digestive problems, and cancer.

It is well known by the veterinary profession that cats are prone to vaccine-site sarcomas, but few vets seem to be aware of the research which shows that dogs also develop vaccine site sarcomas (Journal of Veterinary Medicine, August 2003). Ferrets do, too.

Vaccines are also known, and accepted, to cause encephalitis – inflammation of the brain (Merck Manual). Encephalitis is a spectrum disease. It can be mild and invisible, all the way through to brain damage and death. It is a symptom of, or a word used to describe, the inflammation that is a known sequel to vaccination. Epilepsy is also a symptom of encephalitis, and around one in every hundred dogs in the UK is epileptic.

Other studies show that vaccines can cause arthritis; others that vaccines can cause diabetes; others that vaccines can cause autoimmune haemolytic anaemia. Paresis (paralysis of one or more limbs) is a sequel to encephalitis, which is an acknowledged vaccine reaction.

Therefore, on two counts, unnecessary vaccination should not be promoted or legally acceptable. Financially it is unjustified, and it is potentially harmful to the animals who are needlessly vaccinated. Blood (titer) tests also exist to determine circulating antibody, and these are a safer option for vets to offer.

Yours faithfully

Trevor E Adams BVSc CertBR MRCVS VetMFHom
Richard Allport BVetMed, VetMFHom, MRCVS
Ihor John Basko, DVM, CVA
Stephen Blake BS, DVM, CVA, CVH
Dr Kim Bloomer VND
Laurie S Coger DVM
Christopher Day VetFFHom, Cert IAVH, MRCVS
Rosario Delgado-Lecaroz,DVM
Jeffrey Feinman BA, VMD, CVH
Michael W Fox BVetMed, PhD, DSC, MRCVS
Jean Hofve DVM
Patricia Monahan Jordan DVM, CVA, CTCVH & Herbology
Nicholas Larkins BVSc DSc MRCVS
Roger S Meacock BVSc MRCVS
Clare Middle BVMS CVA CertIAVH
James Newns Bvet Med MRCVS
Barbara Noeldner DVM
Lynn S. Peck, DVM, MS
Richard Pitcairn DVM PhD
Susan Pollen DVM
Darla Rewers, DVM
John Saxton B Vet Med, VetFFHom, IAVH, MRCVS
Cheryl Sears MVB VetMFHom MRCVS
Martin J Schor M.D. F.A.C.S., Diplomat, American Board Of Urology
Fellow, American College Of Surgeons
Charissa Smith BVSc DipAc, DipStrucBal, CertHom,
Suzannah Stacey MRCVS
Paula Terifaj DVM
Lyn Thomson BVSc DipHom
Keith Weingardt DVM, CVA, CTCVM (herbology), Member of AVMA, AHVMA, IVAS, AAVA, Chi Institute
Douglas R. Yearout DVM
Erin Zamzow DVM

Here's the letter from concerned dog owners:

Dear Beverley

We, the undersigned, are dog owners who are losing faith in the veterinary profession and in our government. Many of us believe that our dogs were made ill or killed by unnecessary vaccines. We have signed our names in memory of our dogs, our family friends, who were damaged by vaccines, and we have added their names to our signatures so that they can be counted as mattering. Others of us are signing because we have read the science relating to annual vaccination, and we feel strongly that change is required.

We are not suggesting that pet owners leave their pets unprotected against viral disease. We also understand that many dogs appear to withstand annual vaccination without apparent harm. Others, though, do not.

We are simply stating a known scientific fact – that annual vaccines are not necessary, and they are not without harm. Many of us have blamed ourselves for not knowing this fact, and for following veterinary advice without question. Our dogs look at us with love and trust in their eyes, and we betrayed them through our ignorance.

We are signing this letter so that other dog owners, and cat owners, can be informed of the known science, so that they do not have to stand over the bodies of their dead animals and ask, “why did nobody tell me?” We are calling for informed consent for pet owners, and asking that vets in practice warn pet owners of the known possible side-effects of vaccines, namely allergies, organ failure, brain damage, arthritis, paralysis, epilepsy, and a wide range of immune-mediated diseases including cancer and autoimmune haemolytic anaemia. Sudden death, described as anaphylactic shock, is another acknowledged vaccine reaction that pet owners should be aware of before consenting to potentially unnecessary shots.

We are dismayed that veterinarians and veterinary vaccine manufacturers are allowed by law to promote veterinary products such as annual vaccines, which come with known side-effects, when there is no scientific evidence to say that they are necessary.

We understand that vets are required to follow datasheet guidelines, and that the VMD has allowed veterinary vaccine manufacturers to hide behind duration of immunity studies of only one or three years. It has taken independent scientists to show that vaccines protect for much longer. We are grateful to these independent scientists for doing this work.

We also understand that vets, MPs and political parties receive money from pharmaceutical companies; that professors in veterinary teaching establishments, and the establishments themselves, receive funding from industry; and that most if not all of the large animal charities in the UK are also in receipt of funding from veterinary vaccine manufacturers. We are also concerned that officials within our government departments might also receive pecuniary advantages from veterinary pharmaceutical companies.

We, the undersigned, ask that protective measures be instigated so that pet owners can make informed decisions; that they are told the full truth so that they can choose wisely on behalf of their pets.

Yours faithfully

Catherine O’Driscoll, Canine Health Concern, for Oliver, Prudence and Samson;
Robert Ellis, Canine Health Concern, for Samson and Jazar
Jan Rasmusen, Dogs4Dogs, award-winning author Scared Poopless
Chrissie Mason PhD
Liz Jay BA(Hons), for Lulu
Lisa Lister, for Puzzle
Terry and Satu Bateman, for Baron, Eiger and Brogan
Jens and Christina Diron, for Tallinn
Eve Kueh for Trekkie
Maggie Marshall, for Fleur and Brucie
Gill Aitken VN PhD, for Bill
Elizabeth Smith, for Hoocha and Bertie Bull
Julie Arnold, for Jess
Barbara Halliday for Nora
Alison Ingram BA(Hons), for Oskar
Heather Peterson, for Ben
Pat Nightingale, for Lady
Julia Roth Nicholson, for Poppy
Mandy Payne, for Gunner
Eileen Tuulos, for Tia Maria and KC
Christine Rogers, for Sasha
Victoria Herbert, for Luna and River
Linda Bland, for Cully, Freya and Rosie
Bet Hargreaves, for Ailsa
Christine Bailey BA, for Tasha
Wendy & Garry Galt for Bailey, Sandy, Sarah, Carson, Sage
Jytte Smith, for Zoe
Barbara Burgess for Zilzie and Patch
Antonia Bancroft for Bandit, Fay and Hamish
Jan Vallance BA(Hons) MSc, for Gunn
Anne van Poelwijck, for Chatter, Rose and Mandy
Judith Coveney BA/Ed, for Elsie
Barbara Clark AAMET, for Rosie
Anne Aitken PASIACT , for Tansy
Jennie Wilcock-Bates, for Poacher
Veronica Steel, for Millie
Debbie Hill, for Max
Judith Longman, for Shah
Trisha Scott, for Hannah
Madeline Pook, for Barnaby
Sylvia Walker, for Tailor
Steve and Alison Pearce, for Minx
Sally Cronk, For Sadie
Joyce McDowell, for Bailee
Gail Gwesyn-Price APDT, BIPDT, ACA, NCAB, CSI, for Abel
Kath Rayson, for Oliver
Douglas M Decker SLC, for Alex, Casey and Nikko
Edward McKenzie-Clark, for Hamish
George and Christine Ridley, for Shem
Sarah Rutherford BA Hons, for Kerrie
Christine Wyndham-Thomas, for Lucky
Lisbeth Gjetnes RN, for Zoe and Pippa
Chris Salter, for Dexter and Leo
Pat White, for Sabre
Nick and Lisa Healing, for Jake
John and Sheryl Kobel and Family, Kingdom Cavaliers, for India
Morgana Washington, Welcome Home Sanctuary, for Samson
Janis Mattson, for Mocha Joe
Liz Levelle ND Dip Hom, for Pepper
Bruce and Jean Hellingsworth, for Morgan
Debbie Sutherland, for Mojo and Rocky
Barb McKee, for Bailey, Vegas and Muggins
Anne Grose, for Merrie and Stitch
Judy Williams RGN NDN MAR, for Teifi
Gary Robert Smith, BSc Hons MAPM
Deborah Molwuka BSc(Hons)
Sandy and David Bridger
Andrea Kirk
Linda Johnstone
Alison Poulton
Doreen Simpkins RGN, SCM, RHV, CSWM BA
Debbie Newman
Linda Johnston
Pat Baxter
Christine Crawford
Maurice Lea
Mari-Carmen and Edward Carson
Alexandra McGough BSc
Ren Astley
Naomi Black
Sean Crabtree
Gabbie Slade
Jason Tully
Mary Carlin
Caroline Nash
Sarah Hold BHSAI
Kathy Roberts
Donna Saunders
Tracy Southern
Robert P Warwick
Jackie Field
Sally Walters
Christine Maylor
Cheralyn Lewis BSc BA
Christine Eldridge
Stella Coombes
Diana Hamilton-Andrews
Helen Roberts BSc Hons
Brian Cleghorn
David and Patricia Bryan
Rev Peter Cawood
Marilyn Erbe
Penny Craig
Kelly Hodgson
Alison Frost
Martin J Schor M.D. F.A.C.S., Diplomat, American Board Of Urology, Fellow, American College Of Surgeons
Anne Peter
Deborah Gornall MBIPDT KCAI, Tinklebury Papillons and Chihuahuas, A.P.D.T.
Sharon Hardwicke
Fiona McCann
Sandra Brigola, Von Hapsburg Danes
Shirley Robinson
Alison Merryfield
Veronica Merryfield
Lesley Pegg
Zita Wells
Patricia Sears, BIPDT (Advanced Instructor) APDT FDTCB
Joan M. Anderson, for Bene
Edie Downey
Do you want to add your name to this letter? Email your name and address to


Chapstaff said…
Phew! A lot to read through there. I've skim read it, but shall read in more depth later.
I shall be having my dog titre tested.

Wonder why this is:

"It should be noted that a small percentage of the dog population, notably amongst the black and tan breeds, are unable to acquire immunity, whether or not they are vaccinated. Neither does it matter how many times you vaccinate these dogs – they just don’t acquire immunity."

Strange - I wonder if it's to do with black and tan being a sort of "default" colour.
jo siemieniowski said…
I for one will not be having zak and tasha re vaccinated again, they were both due their boosters, but for a couple of months now i have been disturbed by the number of people writing about the deaths of their beloved pets that died within hours sometimes of haveing boosters, my dogs mean the world to me, and I will not put their health at risk.
Linda Ward said…
'Black and Tan' stood out to me too. Buster was black and tan, and his body attempted to destroy itself - I've linked the 'attacks' to his vaccines, but have no proof now he's gone.

Fred had his jabs in NVM last year. I'd been leaving his jabs due to all this worry about whether they are necessary, but the lure was strong, and he got the double whammy.

He's just had his third booster, because he mixes with so many different dogs, but won't have any more without titre tests. Beauty is waiting for a titre test when she's healed from her recent injury. She's been 28 months since the last booster but I won't be seduced again.

The vet who checks my home for my boarding licence is happy if I can prove they don't need more jabs with the test.
alison said…
You are putting your dogs at risk by not having them vaccinated. Vaccine reactions are extremely rare, especially if the dog previously had a course and had no problems. Reactions resulting in the death of the dog are virtually unheard of. Meanwhile parvo and leptospirosis are common diseases in the UK which kill many dogs each year. They are expensive and frustrating to treat.

By the law of chance, a few dogs that were going to die anyway will die on the day or within a few days of vaccination. This certainly does not mean that the vaccine caused the death!

Most UK vets are vaccinating for lepto annually and parvo, distemper and hepatitis every 3 years as recomended in datasheets.

In addition, vaccination does not just protect yopur own pet but also other peoples. If all UK dogs were vaccinated against parvo for a number of years it would not be around any more (as smallpox, polio, diptheria have been eradicated from the human population) This would be of great benefit to those black and tan breeds which don't always acquire immunity following vaccination.
Passerby said…
Alison, we are putting our dogs at risk by having them vaccinated yearly like robots, please read the latest research by US-based owners, breeders AND VETS on this.

Injection-site sarcomas are now a well-recognised fact in felines, so any statement about correlation needs to take that into account, before dismissing vaccine-mortality and illness as "rare."

I find it quite incredible that it's known that vaccines simply don't work on some kinds of dogs - yet if I took one in to the vet, would he/she advise me of this possibility, or just take the money and deliver the jabs year in, year out, regardless?

Surely a blood or gene test for dogs who won't benefit is way overdue.

My first dog died of a tumour at the vaccination site, and that made me review the tons of research, mounting by the day, on this issue.

I strongly suggest anyone reading this do the same - and fwiw, every vet in my local area wants to boost ALL vaccines yearly, not just one, and one vet stated that they'd start the full run again every three years for dogs who were regularly boarded, which seems even more excessive.
Anonymous said…
I join. And I have faced it. Let's discuss this question. Here or in PM.

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