Dr. Anuska Viljoen BVSc(Hons) VetMFHOM MRCVS –
(Mandala Health Veterinary Clinic, Sedgefield)
From Scotty - There is a lot of controversy as to whether annual vaccinations are necessary after the animal has been protected initially, and whether doing them annually can cause more harm that good. I have put here an article by Dr. Viljoen, who does most of our alternative articles, and tomorrow will be posting an article on the ‘other side’ approach. The article in full can be read by following the link below. This is a very personal decision and you would be wise to discuss the pro’s and con’s with you own vet and then make your decision accordingly.
Firstly I would like to make it clear that I do not believe that vaccinations are completely unnecessary. If you have ever worked in underprivileged areas such as I have in Soweto, you would have had first hand knowledge of the carnage and despair that Parvovirus and Distemper virus can cause to a community of dogs and those that love and take care of them. However I question the current vaccination protocols present in South Africa. I believe in living my life as much as possible with the rule to “FIRST DO NO HARM”. I believe there is harm in overdoing things. There is sense in moderation.
Many articles have been written on the questionable validity of the current policy of vaccinating dogs annually for Canine Distemper virus and Canine Parvovirus (Sutton 1999, Wells 1999, Smith 1995, Carmichael 1999, Twark 1999). It is known that giving combination vaccines can suppress lymphocyte responsiveness (Philips 1989), that following manufacturer guidelines does not guarantee immunity, nor are all vaccines equally efficient (Smith 1995), also that Feline Leukaemia and Rabies vaccines are associated with tumour development (Wells 1999). Various pressure groups have been campaigning to completely stop the current policy of annual vaccination of animals, and there have been a number of articles and letters in the UK veterinary media (Sutton 1999, Wells 1999, BAHVS 2004) as well as in the USA (Smith 1995, Carmichael 1999) calling for change. This mirrors concerns in the human field where there are, quite literally, thousands of articles demonstrating links between vaccination and many childhood illnesses, including Cot Death, and its failure as an overall concept, despite some apparent benefits (Scheibner 1993).
Unfortunately neither the maximum nor minimum duration of protective immunity of most vaccines is known. Many vaccinated animals are never challenged because the pathogens are not present in the animal's environment. 90% of puppies and kittens receive primary vaccinations, yet less than 50% continue to receive annual boosters (Bonner 1999), despite this outbreaks of the major diseases vaccinated for are comparatively rare. It is unsure exactly how long vaccines actually provide immunity for.
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