Pet vaccines have recently come under fire as their inherent dangers are becoming more and more recognized.
You’d have to be pretty much living in a cave if you haven’t seen the recent onslaught of information questioning the safety of vaccines. But suffice it to say that, like any other pharmaceutical product, there are both risks and benefits to vaccines.
The risks range from mild inflammation to allergies, hypothyroidism and even sudden anaphylactic shock.
Who’s Reporting Vaccine Reactions In Dogs And Cats?
Well, this is where it gets worrisome.
Let’s assume that you take your dog or puppy in for a vaccination and she suffers a vaccine reaction. Now it would have to something very sudden and severe in the first place for most vets to even call it a vaccine reaction. Although vaccine reactions can take weeks, months or even years to develop (think of allergies, joint disease, renal disease or hypothyroidism), in the majority of cases, vets only think of vaccine reactions if the dog suffers classic symptoms like sudden explosive diarrhea, lethargy and pain within a few hours of the vaccine.
Now you might think that vets are better able to see vaccine reactions and are eager to report them. However less than 1% of human vaccine adverse reactions get reported to the FDA. Less than 1%. I’d wager that that it’s even lower for veterinary vaccines.
But unlike human vaccine reactions, veterinary vaccine reactions don’t get reported to the FDA.
So Who’s Keeping Track Of Those Vaccine Reactions?
The CVB (the Center for Veterinary Biologics), a division of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) is responsible for approving and labelling and veterinary vaccines, and for tracking adverse events.
Here’s a little story about how good a job the CVB does at monitoring vaccine safety.
In September 2013, veterinarian Ron Hines received two letters from dog owners whose dogs had died after receiving the lepto vaccine. So he called the veterinarian’s inquiry line at the CVB and was informed that adverse reactions wouldn’t be discussed with him – that they were “proprietary” and property of the vaccine manufacturers.
What? We aren’t allowed to see the reports of adverse events? No wonder people think vaccine reactions are rare.
Unlike pet foods and drugs, there’s no place where vets, or even you and I, can find reports on their safety.
Think about all the dogs that died from melamine poisoning a few years back. Now imagine that happening without any reporting to the FDA and without pet owners having a place to find the reports on what foods were poisoning pets.
This is what is happening now with vaccines. We have nowhere to go to find out about their safety.
So since Dr Hines didn’t have access to the adverse reports for those lepto vaccines, he asked the CVB to view the initial safety studies on them. The CVB again refused to share that information.
“You can see all bad reaction reports on the vaccines you take anytime – they are posted online.” says Hines. “But you are not allowed to see the same information when it comes to your pet.”
So Dr Hines filed a Freedom of Information Request and although the CVB told him it wasn’t possible, in December of 2013, he was finally able to see the adverse reports involving lepto vaccines.
But neither of the dogs who died were in those reports.
How could that be?
Well, it seems that 90% of adverse reactions don’t get reported to the CVB. They go directly to the vaccine manufacturers.
This Is Where It Gets Weird
What happens when an adverse vaccine reaction gets reported to the vaccine manufacturer, which happens 90% of the time? They’re required to pass those reports to the CVB, right?
Wrong. The only time the CVB receives adverse reports from the vaccine manufacturers if they request them. And from what Dr Hines learned, that’s a rare occurrence.
So the reports on those two dogs, and I’d wager thousands of others, who reportedly died from after vaccination weren’t monitored or seen by anybody but the vaccine manufacturers.
Let’s recap …
Only 1% of adverse reactions to vaccines are likely to be reported
Of those, 90% are reported to the vaccine manufacturer directly, but not the CVB
When the vaccine manufacturers receive those reports, they are not obligated to send them to the CVB and the CVB doesn’t routinely request them.
The minuscule number of reports that do reach the CVB aren’t accessible to vets or the general public. There is no way for vets and pet owners to find out just how many adverse reactions are caused by vaccines.
What kind of messed up system is that?
What Can We Do To Change This?
If you suspect your dog or cat has suffered an adverse event from a vaccine, then make sure your vet fills out a report with the CVB. Here is the link – make sure you stand over his shoulder while it’s completed or it may never reach the CVB. Note that you can’t make a report without first contacting the vaccine manufacturer. Don’t let it end there – the CVB must be contacted directly.
Finally, here is some good news and a request from Dr Hines:
“On Jan 8, 2014, I received an email from the Center For Veterinary Biologics informing me that they plan to change their policy and make vaccine manufacturers report all undesirable (adverse) vaccine reactions to them. The pharmaceutical companies will not be pleased. They have their lobbyists, but there is no one in Washington lobbying for you and your pet. You need to let the CVB and your congressmen know that you support the CVB’s decision. Add that the information needs to be posted on the CVB website in a understandable/readable manner for pet owners like you – just as the FDA posts adverse event reports for the vaccines you and your family receive on their site to help you make wise decisions.”
Please let the CVB know that you demand better of them. This will be a long and bloody fight, but it’s a battle worth winning.