At Dogs Naturally, we’re both saddened and amused when surfing through veterinary clinic websites. We decided to post a Top Five List of some of the just plain bad vaccine advice commonly dispensed by vets. Here are some real snippets of wisdom, pulled off various veterinary websites.
1. Prevention is better than cure. Vaccination is the way we cause animals to become resistant (immune) to infections. A vaccine consists of a modified or killed virus or bacterium. It is prepared in such a way that the body’s defences recognise it as a threat and react to it as if it were a real infection. The body will produce antibodies which are proteins which recognise and attach to chemicals on the surface of the organism, killing it. These antibodies are then available to kill any of the real infection organisms the animal might pick up during its life. They are lost gradually and the body needs occasional reminders (booster vaccinations) to keep the antibody level high enough to prevent real infections. Vaccination reactions are very rare. A booster is recommended each year.
The body does not react to a vaccine the same way it would to the real disease. When exposed to real virus, the body forms immunity by filing that information away in memory cells. The memory cells, called cellular immunity, are reponsible for mounting a quick attack the next time they are faced with the same disease and the body, armed with the knowledge the memory cells have stored away, quickly neutralizes the disease by triggering circulating antibodies. This is why humans only get chicken pox once and dogs can only get parvovirus once. After the first episode, they are protected for life.
Vaccines try to emulate this, but they don’t do a complete job. Vaccines stimulate circulating antibodies, called humeral immunity, and they bypass the memory cells. This creates an artificial immunity called humeral bias and this essentially turns the immune system inside out. To learn more about this effect, read our article on Vaccines And The Immune System.
But the real problem with this statement is wanting antibody levels to be high. High antibody levels mean high levels of circulating antibodies – or humeral bias. The higher the titer, the more chronically inflamed the body is. This humeral bias and resulting chronic inflammation result in many of the autoimmune diseases we commonly see in dogs today: allergies, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, bowel disease and many, many more. Vaccine reactions may be rare, but the risk and severity of chronic disease that vaccines cause increase with every vaccine given.
2. Your puppy vaccination course should be started at 6 weeks of age. A primary vaccination is first given and a booster 2-4 weeks later. This course must be completed before your puppy is fully protected. Unfortunately the protection provided by vaccinating is not life-long and hence an annual booster is recommended. At ________ veterinary clinic we will send you out an annual reminder to ensure your pet is kept up to date and protected.
Vaccinating a puppy at 6 weeks? According to veterinary vaccine researcher Dr. Jean Dodds, only 30% of puppies will be protected from a vaccine given at 6 weeks of age: yet 100% of them will be exposed to disease when taken to the vet clinic for that shot. Moreover, vaccines create immune suppression for 10 to 14 days. So, choosing to vaccinate a puppy at 6 weeks means exposing him to the most disease ridden location he could possibly be in – the vet clinic, creating immune suppression so he is much more likely to get the disease he is being vaccinating for, and all in exchange for a 30% chance the vaccine will work. That’s a pretty high gamble with a puppy’s life.
The reason the vaccine is unlikely to work at that young age is because the puppy is protected against disease with maternal antibodies – immunity passed down from his mother. This protection wanes over time, but is still pretty strong at 6 weeks. That’s why in most cases the vaccine doesn’t work: the maternal antibodies are strong enough to block the vaccine. Actually this should be in the past tense: the maternal antibodies will be less effective after the vaccine is given because vaccines cause immune suppression.
Problem number two is this statement: “This course must be completed before your puppy is fully protected.” There are two problems with this statement actually. One, you can’t be partially protected: it’s like being a virgin, you either are or you aren’t. Either the immune system has filed that information away or it hasn’t: there is no grey area, you are either immune or you are not. As for the other problem, a course of vaccines is not necessary: it only takes ONE vaccine to protect a puppy – ONE. For more information on this, you might want to read Taking The Risk Out Of Puppy Shots.
3. Primary pet vaccinations do not cover your animal for the rest of their life, so annual booster vaccinations are required for continued protection.
Wow,bad grammar aside, there is one very big problem with this statement – a monumental problem of biblical proportions! Not only do core vaccines last for the life of the animal, they’ve known about this for about forty years! We won’t even go into why annual vaccination is a very, very bad choice – because vaccinating every three years or every five years is also a bad choice, based on unsound science. Nuff said. Think we’re making this up? You might want to read Lifelong Immunity: Why Vets Are Pushing Back for more information.
4. At ______ Veterinary Hospital, we are aware of some of the controversy currently surrounding immunization protocols. However, until industry leaders and experts, such as the vaccine manufacturers and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), arrive at some definitive conclusions, we believe it to be in the best interest of your pet and the general public to continue to adhere to our established immunization protocols. We recommend that your pet should receive annual boosters.
Controversy? Industry leaders and experts? Here is the crux of the problem: these vets are waiting for the vaccine manufacturers and the AVMA to decide how often to vaccinate. Don’t you think that both of these entities have a financial interest in how often you vaccinate your dog? Are they capable of making an unbiased recommendation? Apparently not.
The report of the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Taskforce in JAAHA (39 March/April 2003) includes the following information for vets:
‘Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination; Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination.’
‘This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.’
If you would like to read more about how vets arbitrarily chose the period of three years for revaccination, even though they knew back in 2003 that vaccines lasted likely for the life of the dog, read Lifelong Immunity And The AAHA Revaccination Guidelines.
5. Annual boosters are painless for your pet, and help to fight off contagious illnesses throughout the year. The staff at ______ Veterinary Clinic are expertly trained in the welfare of your pet.
Any vet who advocates annual vaccinations – or even uses the term booster – is clearly not expertly trained in the welfare of your pet. In fact, most vets are woefully inept when it comes to understanding immunity. They are very good at giving vaccines – yet most vets are not taught very much about immunity at all. Perhaps that’s because immunity is taught by the vaccine manufacturers – it’s no wonder that vets are well armed with needles yet lack the knowledge to question just what damage those needles are doing. If you would like to learn more about how little vets feel they were taught about vaccination, and the disease they saw vaccines create in their patients, read our ground-breaking featured article, Vets On Vaccines.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether vets spew this bad advice out of ignorance or for financial gain (most veterinary practices rely on vaccine money to stay in business). Either way, the bad advice is out there and dog owners – and dogs – will fall victim to that bad advice. If you find your vet dispensing bad vaccine advice, don’t ignore it. Perhaps reading and sharing What Every Vet (And Pet Owner) Should Know About Vaccines will help you both to begin understanding that vaccination involves more than just shots and boosters.