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Pet Booster Vaccinations : River Valley edition : Saturday, 22 February 2020 22:20 EST : a service of The Public Press
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Anyone who can handle a
needle convincingly can
make us see a thread
which is not there.
– E. H. Gombrich

Pet Booster Vaccinations

     by Jill Breitner

One of the most practiced actions taken with our pets is often done so without question. Every year, we get a reminder card from our veterinarian that our beloved pets are due for their annual routine vaccinations. But the idea that these yearly booster shots are necessary is one of the biggest misconceptions in the practice of veterinary medicine.

We must question the myth that vaccinations are necessary and not harmful. There is absolutely no science indicating that annual booster vaccinations are necessary. The practice of revaccinating or over-vaccinating is more likely to jeopardize our pets' health than keep them healthy. How many of you are constantly taking your pets to the vet for skin problems, ear infections, yeast infections, autoimmune disease and allergic reactions? There is very likely a correlation between over-vaccination, also called vaccinosis, and these very serious health issues. The cost is devastating, not only to our pocketbooks, but also to our pets.

Let's go back in history a bit to get a better picture of this very serious revaccination program. In the 1950s, an epidemic of animal diseases prompted pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines to protect our animals from potentially deadly diseases, and we eagerly sought protection for our pets. The pharmaceutical companies never revised their drug regimen that promoted a meritless, yearly booster-vaccination protocol.

A direct quote from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): quiet zone

The one-year revaccination recommendation found on many vaccine labels is often based on historical precedent and was allowed by USDA regulation since it was based on the best scientific knowledge available at that time, which did not necessarily include product specific data. Even in those cases where scientific data were submitted to qualify a revaccination label claim, the data generally targeted a minimum duration of immunity and did not necessarily resolve the question regarding average or maximum duration of immunity.

A growing population of concerned pet owners and holistic veterinarians began to question this yearly revaccination protocol and found that there is no clear evidence to prove its efficacy. People do not get revaccinated every year for polio, chicken pox, and the like, yet we do the equivalent of that to our pets.
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In the last 5 years, all 27 veterinary schools have come on board, admitting that yearly vaccinations are not required, and are more likely to be causing health problems. There has been much controversy around this issue, because yearly vaccinations bring your vet a dependable income. Vaccines cost veterinarians approximately 80 cents per vaccine; we are charged approximately $15–$25. Then, while we're in the vet's office once a year, we are being sold on other newfangled products. Today, the AVMA and veterinary schools are saying that a 3-year booster-vaccination program is more acceptable. But this statement, too, has no science behind it.

In Current Veterinary Therapy, Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, Ph.D., D.V.M. Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, writes:

A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years…. Only the immune response to toxins requires boosters (eg: tetanus in humans), and no toxin vaccines are currently used for dogs or cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate [a secondary] response…. The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy unless it is used as a mechanism to provide an annual physical examination or is required by law (i.e., rabies vaccinations in some states).

It is up to us to pose the question of booster vaccinations to our veterinarians and find out what their protocol is given each animal's situation. The vaccination schedule you and your vet choose for your pet should be individualized based on many factors (e.g., indoor only, indoor and outdoor, geographical location, age and health).

Puppies and kittens do require certain vaccinations and this too has changed over the years, so be certain to check with your veterinarian about which vaccines are appropriate and necessary for your pet. Please see the sidebar below for a valuable resource list on pet vaccinations.

There are simple tests that you can have your veterinarian perform to check the antibodies for certain diseases. These are called titers. A simple blood titer will tell you whether your pet has enough antibodies to be protected. I realize that the idea of not vaccinating your pets can be daunting, as we have been brainwashed to vaccinate regularly, but I know from personal experience with my beloved four-leggeds that it's the right choice.

Jill Breitner, Shewhisperer, has a degree in Animal Science and has worked as a behavioral specialist/dog whisperer for 30 years. www.shewhisperer.com


RECOMMENDED VACCINES and schedule for puppies and kittens can be found on these two websites: Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM has been instrumental in getting to the truth about vaccinations




THE NATURE OF ANIMAL HEALING: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat

By Martin Goldstein, D.V.M.

SHIRLEY'S WELLNESS CAFÉ: www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/

This site has a wealth of information about everything pet-related— vaccines, quotes from vets, updates, current vaccine legislation, books and articles, too.



An article discussing the efficacy and safety of vaccines as well as titer testing.

ALTERNATIVE VETERINARY MEDICINE: a wonderful site about alternatives for our pets. This is an article by Dr. Susan Wynn, DVM




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