Animal vaccination is a topic that affects all of those who care for animals including both those in the animal welfare sector and those in the veterinary community. However, as some of you may know, the ShelterCare requirement with regards to the vaccination of insured cats and dogs is open-ended, reading only that “As a condition of insurance the Insured’s pet must receive an annual physical exam and all licensed vaccines as recommended by the Insured’s veterinarian.” The reason for the open ended nature of this requirement is that, despite extensive debate on the subject, there remains no accepted protocol within either the animal welfare community or within the veterinary sector for the vaccination of cats and dogs.
Much of the discussion about vaccination will take place between the new adopter and their chosen veterinarian once the animals have left the care of your organization. However, a vaccination protocol is something that many organizations in the animal welfare community consider implementing in order to avoid outbreaks of contagious and deadly diseases within their organization. In our recent PetPoint Journals #17 and 18 it was noted that approximately 45-55% of all adopted dogs are vaccinated while they are in the care of the animal welfare community. The percentage of adopted cats that are vaccinated is higher, approximately 55-65%, perhaps reflecting the desire to contain outbreaks of Upper Respiratory Infections in cats. Approximately 80% of vaccinations given by animal welfare personnel are administered within 24 hours of intake, indicating pro-active protection measures being taken to prevent the introduction of disease into the facility.
Attempts by veterinarians to create a “one-size-fits-all” protocol for the vaccination of cats and dogs have been consistently thwarted by the complicated and ever changing set of considerations that must be assessed. As the amount of historical data builds up, veterinarians have access to an increasing knowledge base concerning the immune response of cats and dogs to vaccination (both positive and adverse effects). In addition, each year additional research is carried out to understand the nature of infectious diseases and improved veterinary technology is allowing domestic animals to live longer lives. Added to this is the fact that the prevalence of various diseases changes based upon location and the administration of vaccines to different species and breeds has been shown to have differing effects.
In the face of this abundance of information, some of it static and some of it changing, and after years of research, the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents (“COBTA”) concluded that inadequate data exists to scientifically determine a single, “one-size-fits-all” protocol for vaccination or revaccination of dogs and cats.
The AVMA recommendation for individual veterinarians is to create a core vaccine program for the majority of animals in their practice. Core vaccines include those that protect against diseases caused by agents that are highly infectious, virulent, and widely distributed and for which highly effective vaccines exist and may be required by law. Veterinarians may choose to administer noncore vaccines to a minority of animals who are at special risk due to lifestyle, breed or other individual circumstances. Non-core vaccines are for diseases that represent a less-severe threat and/or for which the vaccine benefit-risk ratio is too low for general use.
Vaccination has consistently proven itself to be a life-saving tool in the day-to-day health management of domestic animals. We encourage you to advise new adopters that this is something they will need to discuss with their veterinarian to ensure that their new family member gets the protection it needs. The ShelterCare Gift will cover adopters against costs associated with the most common contagious diseases frequently found in newly adopted animals, thereafter ShelterCare offers QuickCare Optimum and QuickCare Complete to help cover the cost associated with providing all required vaccinations.