Efficacy (or: Does it Work?)
Every procedure we do to ourselves or those in our care should
be a useful one or there is no reason to do it. This may seem
obvious, but bears mentioning, especially in the world of modern
medicine. While vaccinations may confer immunity in animals,
how effective or useful is it to repeat this procedure every
year, as is the standard recommendation in this country today?
has recognized for a great many years that viruses in vaccinations
a long-lived immunity. This is why your
physician is not sending you postcards every year to repeat your
small pox or polio vaccinations annually. They understand your
immune system was adequately stimulated in childhood, and a cellular
memory exists in you that will "wake up" if any future
challenges from these viruses occur. Is there some profound difference
in animals that makes us think they need to repeat their vaccinations
yearly? Let me quote from the experts. The following was printed
in Current Veterinary Therapy, volume XI, published several years
ago (this is a very well respected, peer-reviewed book that is
updated every four years). The authors are veterinary immunologists
Ronald Schultz (University of Wisconsin) and Tom Phillips (Scrips
practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific
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...... Furthermore, revaccination
with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic
response.... The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion
should be considered of questionable efficacy..."
plain English, that means you are wasting a lot of money (and,
later, risking your animals' health) without
much likelihood that your animal is actually becoming "boosted" each
year. In other words, the immunity that was established in early
life persists, and it is that immunity that actually interferes
with subsequent vaccinations. It's much like the case of vaccinating
very young puppies. If you vaccinate a puppy (or kitten) at a
too young age, the maternal antibodies from the mother's immune
system are still present, and the vaccine will be thwarted in
its attempt to provoke an immune response.
had the pleasure to meet Dr. Schultz at a veterinary conference
ago. He has done research for many of the companies
that market vaccines. It was very interesting to hear his perspective
of 25 years in this field. He clearly had not come to this understanding
lightly. One most interesting fact was the way that rabies vaccine
comes to be labeled. We currently have a "One-year rabies" and
a "Three-year rabies" vaccine. On the labels, the one-year
must be repeated yearly and the three- year must be repeated
every three years. The reason behind this is the length of time
the experimental animals were studied. At the end of one year
after their vaccination, the animals were challenged with live
rabies virus, the survivors tallied, and the vaccine marketed.
The same vaccine was studied for three years , the data gathered,
and this vaccine lot was marketed as "Three-year rabies
vaccine." Rabies vaccine is so effective in immunizing that
there is likely life-long protection. Why then do we vaccinate
annually? And why, in light of the understanding above, are we
Texas veterinarians required to use the three-year vaccine annually?
Unfortunately, we have a law in place that fails to recognize
immunological facts. In Texas, all dogs and cats are required
to be vaccinated annually against rabies.
about the other vaccinations? They are also viral vaccines,
be "no immunological requirement" for
repeating them yearly. Also know that none of the others are
required by law to be repeated annually. Some are even useless
to give at any age, others at any age over one year.
lot of what conventional medicine recommends is based on is
If there's a "bad germ" out there that might "get
us" (or our pets), we want to use something to protect against
that germ. We've all heard horror stories about dogs dying of
Parvovirus infection, so we are admonished to get yearly (or
even twice yearly!) vaccinations against this deadly disease.
Yet how many adult dogs die of Parvo each year? Ask your veterinarian
this question. Parvo is almost always a disease of puppies under
one year of age, and very occasionally old dogs who have weakened
immune systems from unhealthy living (commercial diets and frequent
vaccinations!). Why, then should we vaccinate against it yearly
throughout life? Coronavirus also causes puppy diarrhea and vomiting,
but differs from Parvo in that it is not fatal. Is it worthwhile
injecting viruses into our animals for a disease from which they
will surely survive? Dr. Schultz and others feel it is not. Yet
this and other non-fatal viruses are in common use in every "annual
You might ask why this annual vaccination habit exists. It's
a very good question, and one that conventional medicine is examining
more and more frequently as time goes on. A recent watershed
occurred when a renowned University of California-Davis veterinary
researcher and professor, Neils Pedersen, commented on the practice
in a very well respected conventional magazine called AAHA Trends
(AAHA is the American Animal Hospital Association).
vaccine practices are medically unsound. It is time to
wisdom of annual booster, multivalent products
(combination vaccines, the most common being DHLPP for dogs
and FVRCP for cats), and unnecessary vaccines. Doing so will
companion animals' immunization to its status as a medical
and not an economical procedure."
What will get us a lot closer to what we really want (healthy
animals who are resistant to all disease) is to focus on raising
our individual animals in the way that allows them to do what
nature intended: to live freely, happily, and fully alive, with
an immune system that responds directly to any challenge that
confronts them. In our haste to protect our pets, let's not forget
that it's the animal's immune system that protects, not some
solution of viruses in a syringe.
In Part II I address another aspect of the vaccine question:
safety. For now, suffice it to say that if your dog or cat is
an adult who has had vaccinations, there is no immunologic need
to continue vaccinating annually: the immunity is present from
the early vaccines and will not get any better through yearly
Click here to view Part II of this article.