COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
SMALL ANIMAL VACCINATION PROTOCOL
A recent survey by one of the largest vaccine manufacturers (Pfizer) of small animal vaccination practices found 1,700 different vaccination recommendations for dogs and cats from veterinarians across the United States. In January 1998, the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital will be offering its clients one additional vaccination program (1701). We are making this change after years of concern about the lack of scientific evidence to support the current practice of annual vaccination and the increasing documentation that overvaccinating has been associated with harmful side effects. Of particular note in this regard has been the association of autoimmune hemolytic anemia with vaccination in dogs and vaccine-associated sarcomas in cats– both of which are often fatal. Boosters, the annual revaccination recommendation on the vaccine label is just that — a recommendation, and is not a legal requirement except for rabies. This recommendation could just as well have been every leap year or full moon and is not, in most cases, based on duration of immunity studies. The only commonly used vaccine that requires that duration of immunity studies be carried out before licensure in the United States is rabies. Even with rabies vaccines, the label may be misleading in that a three year duration of immunity product may also be labeled and sold as a one year duration of immunity product.
Based on the concern that annual vaccination of small animals for many infectious agents is probably no longer scientifically justified, and our desire to avoid vaccine-associated adverse events, in January of 1998 we will be recommending a new immunization protocol to our small animal clients called “Program 1701”.
Program 1701 recommends the standard three shot series for puppies (parvovirus, adenovirus 2, parainfluenza, distemper) and kittens (panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis, calicivirus) to include rabies after 12 weeks of age for cats and 16 weeks of age for dogs. Following the initial puppy and kitten immunization series, cats and dogs will be boostered one year later and then every three years thereafter for all the above diseases. Similar small animal vaccination programs to Program 1701 have been recently adopted by the University of Wisconsin, Texas A & M and the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
Other available small animal vaccines, which may need more frequent administration, i.e., intranasal parainfluenza, Bordetella, feline leukemia, Lyme, etc., may be recommended for CSU client animals on an “at risk” basis but are not a part of the routine Colorado State University protocol for small animals. Recent studies by Dr. Ron Schultz clearly indicate that not all vaccines perform equally and some vaccine products may not be suitable for such a program.