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Vaccine Avoidance: Protect Your Pet from Over-Vaccination and Vaccinosis
At HolVet, we recommend avoiding vaccines simply because 1) they tend to cause, or worsen, chronic disease, and 2) because the protection they provide tends to last a lifetime in dogs and cats, just as they do in humans. Although the current majority of the veterinary medical community does not practice as though this were important, it certainly has been established as fact for many years. In conventional veterinary medicine these facts are treated as though they are 1) a rare phenomenon, and 2) there is strong financial incentive not to change the status quo of annual revaccination. Compounding these dynamics is the incorrect prevailing idea that vaccines are wholy benign.
In holistic circles, we believe in the concept that vaccines can cause chronic illness in a much more prevalent way. We get to see animals in old age that have never been vaccinated and it seems obvious to us that as a group, as whole populations, dogs and cats especially, that have been vaccinated year after year, tend to have more chronic problems than dogs and cats that have not; that have either been minimally vaccinated as puppies and kittens or have not been vaccinated at all.
Science Confirms that Annual Vaccines are Unnecessary
Current Veterinary Therapy, 11th Edition, which is one of the most significant textbooks in veterinary medicine to date, says that vaccines tend to last a lifetime in dogs and cats. Dogs and cats in old age do tend to have more chronic disease when they have those vaccines repeated on a yearly basis. Annual revaccinations are unnecessary:
A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. 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, allowing an animal to develop a protective anamnestic (secondary) response when exposed to virulent organisms. Only the immune response to toxins requires boosters (e.g. tetanus toxin booster, in humans, is recommended once every 7-10 years), and no toxin vaccines are currently used for dogs or cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response as a result of interference by existing antibody (similar to maternal antibody interference). 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., certain states require annual revaccination for rabies).
Vaccine manufacturers back in the 50s and 60s (when vaccines first were created for dogs and cats), had no idea how long vaccines would last. They had to have something on the label, as per FDA requirements, which was backed up by proof. So if they were able to scientifically prove that a vaccine lasted a year, they put that on the label and ended the experiment. They never checked to see if the vaccines were effective beyond a year.
Blood tests (called titre tests) confirm that most vaccines tend to last a lifetime in dogs and cats. Pets that are vaccinated according to recommendations, after fourteen weeks of age, have protection for a lifetime. Occasionally those pets will need one booster.
Rabies Vaccinations are No Different
Rabies vaccinations last a lifetime, just as other vaccines do. This can also be proven by performing a rabies titre on a blood sample. If you have a legal requirement for rabies in your area, which most folks do, then you’re looking at vaccinating every year or three years. Mind you, both the one year and the three year vaccine likely give a lifetime of protection, they’re just label one- and three-year because that’s what the research that was done proved; making it permissible to put that recommendation on the label.
Especially in the case of rabies vaccines, where boosters are required by law, it is important to minimize potential problems. Our practice is careful to administer a dose appropriate to the size of the animal - a chihuahua does not need the same dose as a mastiff!
Homeopathic treatment immediately after receiving as vaccine has also proven effective at minimizing problems stemming from vaccinosis.