Booster vaccinations: More harm than good?

One of the most common practices we do with our pets is often done without question. Every year we get a reminder card from our veterinarian that our beloved pets are due for their annual routine vaccination but the idea that these yearly booster shots are necessary is one of the biggest controversies in the practice of veterinary medicine today—and most of us buy it hook, line and sinker.

We must question the assumption that vaccinations are necessary and safe. There is absolutely no science indicating that annual booster vaccinations are necessary. The practice of revaccinating or over-vaccinating is more likely to jeopardize our pets’ health than keep them healthy. How many of you constantly take your pets to the vet for skin problems, ear infections, yeast infections, autoimmune disease and allergic reactions? There is very likely a correlation between over-vaccination also called vaccinosis and these very serious health issues. The cost is devastating not only to our pocketbooks but most importantly of course to our pets.

The History of Vaccines

Let’s go back in history a bit to get a better picture of this very serious revaccination program which is unquestionably making our pets very sick. Do you remember years ago that it was common for pets to live long and healthy lives? Today, pets are getting cancer, having immune-deficiency problems and in general not living the long lives that they used to. In the 1950s, an epidemic of animal diseases prompted pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines to protect our animals from potentially deadly diseases and we eagerly sought protection for our pets. At that time, these vaccines did save lives; yet the greed of the pharmaceutical companies to promote a yearly booster-vaccination protocol without proven efficacy is causing harm to our pets.

Where the American Veterinary Medical Association stands today

This is a direct quote from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):

“The one-year revaccination recommendation found on many vaccine labels is often based on historical precedent and was allowed by USDA regulation since it was based on the best scientific knowledge available at that time, which did not necessarily include product specific data. Even in those cases where scientific data were submitted to qualify a revaccination label claim, the data generally targeted a minimum duration of immunity and did not necessarily resolve the question regarding average or maximum duration of immunity.”

What we know about our pets today.

We didn’t know any better and our pets got sicker and sicker. A growing population of concerned pet owners and holistic veterinarians began to question this yearly revaccination protocol and found that there is no clear evidence to prove its efficacy. We, humans do not get revaccinated every year for polio, chicken pox, and tetanus, yet we do the equivalent of that to our pets.

In the last five years, all 27 veterinary schools have concurred that yearly vaccinations are not required and are more likely to cause health problems. This issue is very controversial because yearly vaccinations are a dependable income stream. Vaccines cost veterinarians approximately 80 cents per vaccine; consumers are charged approximately $15- $25 each. Today, the AVMA and veterinary schools are saying that a three-year booster/vaccination program is more acceptable—but even this statement has no science behind it. Annual physical exams can be beneficial in the detection of illness but not for revaccination.

More from Dr. Ronald Schultz,Ph.D, D.V.M on revaccination.

In Current Veterinary Therapy, Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, Ph.D., D.V.M., and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, writes, “A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccinations. 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 (eg: tetanus in humans), 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.: rabies vaccinations in some states).

The driving forces behind this vaccination protocol are politics and corporate profit, not the health of our pets. I have asked my clients to randomly call 10 local veterinarians and ask what types of diseases are most common today. The answer is undoubtedly cancer—and the most common surgery besides spay and neuter is tumor removal. Studies have shown that cancer developed at the site of vaccination is very common, especially in cats.

Talk to your vet and choose the proper protocol for your pet.

It is up to us to ask our veterinarians about booster vaccinations and find out what their protocol is, given each animal’s physical condition. The vaccination schedule you and your vet choose for your pet should be individualized based on many factors such as whether they live indoors only, indoors and outdoors, geographical location, age and health.

Puppies and Kittens

Puppies and kittens do require certain vaccinations and this too has changed over the years so be certain to check with your veterinarian about which vaccines are appropriate and necessary for your pet. Below you will find an updated guide to recommended vaccinations for our pups and kitties.

Titer Tests

There are simple tests that you can have your veterinarian perform to check the antibodies for certain diseases. These are called titers. A simple blood titer will tell you whether your pet has enough antibodies to be protected.

I realize that the idea of not vaccinating your pets can be daunting because we have been brainwashed to vaccinate regularly.  However, I know from personal experience with my beloved four-leggeds that it’s the right choice. I have two dogs, two cats, and two horses. I have not vaccinated any of them for anything. I have had my two geldings since they were weanlings; they are now 16and 9 years old. One of my cats was found when he was two days old in a box in front of a grocery store. I saved the litter and gave away all but two. They are now 16 yrs old and living a wonderful life as indoor/outdoor cats on a raw diet and thriving. My two dogs are both rescues, one found on the streets of downtown Los Angeles, at around six months of age. Going strong at 17 years old, she enjoys a wonderful life going on very short hikes, at the dog park, and working with me on private dog training sessions by being the elder dog a puppy must learn to respect. The other wonder dog is Rascal, an almost eight year old Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix who was rescued from an abusive home. Both are on a raw diet. Rascal was already vaccinated when I got him, at 10 months of age. I have not vaccinated him since. Last January I lost a German Shepherd who lived to be 13 yrs old and was never vaccinated.

RECOMMENDED VACCINES and schedules for puppies and kittens can be found on the two websites below. Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, has been instrumental in getting to the truth about vaccinations. I also strongly recommend Dr. Nancy Kay’s bestselling book Speaking for Spot.