Logo designed by Rodney Evans who lost his Little Girl to VAS
By Catherine O'Driscoll
Richard B. Ford, DVM, MSM
2011 Vaccines and Vaccination Richard B. Ford, DVM, MSM Diplomate ACVIM and (Hon) ACVPM Emeritus Professor of Medicine North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Raleigh, North Carolina
While it is the choice of individual veterinarians whether or not to adopt any of the current vaccination recommendations, it is important to note that AAHA and AAFP do not make recommendations regarding Rabies Vaccination. State and/or Local laws provide specific guidance regarding initial and booster vaccination for rabies in dogs and cats. Where laws are not in effect, veterinarians are encouraged to recommend rabies vaccination in accordance with recommendations included in the tables above.
What NOT to do
Current national and international vaccination guidelines have cited some important recommendations regarding what to avoid when administering vaccines to dogs and cats. Five principle recommendations are highlighted below:
...miss the 14-16 week dose when administering CORE vaccines to puppies and kittens... veterinarians are encouraged to advise clientele that, during the course of "puppy"/"kitten" shots, the last dose in the initial series may be the most important. "Don't miss this dose"...as it may be the first opportunity to immunize without risk of interference from maternally derived antibody.
...administer any vaccine at an interval of less than 2 weeks. It is possible that innate immune responses (cytokines, etc.) could interfere with the second dose of a vaccine administered within a 10-day period following vaccination. This effect is not antibody-dependent and, therefore, applies to any vaccine.
...reduce the volume of any vaccine as a way to reduce the risk of an adverse reaction. Doing so may result in sub-optimal, or no, immunization.
...mix vaccines that are not specifically labeled for combination. Doing so may result in inactivation of one or more antigens. Likewise, it is not recommended to administer vaccines from different manufacturers into the same site at the same appointment.
...administer any vaccine licensed for intranasal (IN) administration by the subcutaneous (SQ) route. Doing so, especially with IN B. bronchiseptica vaccine, may cause abscess formation or, in some cases, death. Also, oral administration of a vaccine labeled for IN administration will result in inactivation of the antigen and failure to immunize.
These cat vaccine protocols are recommended by American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Feline Practitioners, Texas A & M University, and American Animal Hospital Association. I do not endorse them as my pets do not receive vaccinations beyond their first year.
Vaccine Protocol for Cats Over vaccinating, however, is a huge issue. So getting down the protocol is important and it can be confusing, because I have been told different things by different vets. The risk of injection site sarcoma due to vaccination in cats is strong and supports limiting vaccinations to the latest protocol available.
Feline Vaccination Guidelines In general, guidelines for vaccination of cats have been strongly influenced by the appearance of vaccine-associated sarcomas in cats, and in particular their epidemiologic association with feline leukemia virus vaccines and killed rabies virus vaccines. Thus, there is clear evidence for minimizing frequency of vaccination in cats. The recommendations below have been made in light of the AVMA/AAHA/AAFP/VCS task force recommendations on vaccine-associated sarcomas in cats. Risk factors for sarcomas should be discussed with cat owners at the time of examination. If a cat develops a palpable granuloma at the site of previous vaccination, the benefits vs risks of future vaccinations should becarefully considered. All vaccine-associated sarcomas should be reported to the vaccine manufacturer, the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics, and the AVMA.
Feline Core Vaccines The core feline vaccines are those for feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV1), feline calicivirus (FCV), feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) and rabies.
Feline Herpesvirus 1, Feline Calicivirus and Feline Panleukopenia Virus Vaccines For initial kitten vaccination (< 16 weeks), one dose of parenteral vaccine containing modified live virus (MLV) FHV1, FCV, and FPV is recommended every 3-4 weeks from 6-8 weeks of age, with the final booster being given no sooner than 16 weeks of age. For cats older than 16 weeks of age, two doses of vaccine containing modified live virus (MLV) FHV1, FCV, and FPV given 3-4 weeks apart are recommended. After a booster at one year, revaccination is every 3 years thereafter.
Feline Rabies Virus Vaccines Cats are important in the epidemiology of rabies in the US. In general it is recommend that kittens receive a single dose of recombinant rabies vaccine at 12-16 weeks of age. Adult cats with unknown vaccination history should also receive a single dose of recombinant rabies vaccine. For the recombinant vaccines, boosters are recommended at yearly intervals. According to recommendations of the vaccine-associated sarcoma task force, rabies vaccines are administered subcutaneously as distally as possible in the right rear limb.
Feline Non-Core Vaccines Optional or non-core vaccines for cats consist of the vaccines for feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus, virulent FCV, Chlamydophila felis, and Bordetella bronchiseptica.
Feline Leukemia Virus Vaccine Vaccination is most likely to be useful in kittens and young adult cats, because acquired resistance to infection develops beyond 16 weeks of age. As of 2006, the AAFP recommends primary vaccination of all kittens for FeLV, but the decision to administer booster vaccines is based on risk assessment. Vaccination is not recommended for FeLV-positive cats and indoor cats with no likelihood of exposure to FeLV. The recombinant transdermal FeLV vaccine is recommended, although there is no evidence as yet that it is associated with a decreased risk of sarcoma formation. Initially, two doses of vaccine are given at 2-4 week intervals, after which annual boosters are recommended depending on risk. According to recommendations of the vaccine-associated sarcoma task force, FeLV vaccines are administered subcutaneously as distally as possible in the left rear limb.