Earlier this week, we published an article, Why Vets Are Getting Away With Murder, that details how vets are given license to over-vaccinate our companion animals into disease. It’s very important that pet owners understand this because chances are, their vet is making immunology decisions on your dog’s behalf that he is very likely not prepared to make – and the wrong decision can cost your dog his life.
When it comes to immunity and duration of immunity for vaccines, there is one clear expert. Dr. Ronald D. Schultz is one of perhaps three or four researchers doing challenge studies on veterinary vaccines – and he has been doing these studies for 40 years. Regardless of whether veterinarians wish to take notice of his very large body of impressive research, it is there and it very strongly suggests lifelong immunity for all core vaccines (including distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus). See Lifelong Immunity: Why Vets Are Pushing Back for more information.
Below is a summary of the bulk of his research. It’s pretty obvious that the core vaccines last very likely for the life of the dog and certainly a lot longer than one or three years. It is important to note that he states that this is the minimum duration of immunity. Those upper numbers reflect the duration of the study, not the time at which immunity began to decline.
Table 1: Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines
Minimum Duration of Immunity
Methods Used to Determine Immunity
|Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)|
|Rockbom Strain||7 yrs / 15 yrs||challenge / serology|
|Onderstepoort Strain||5 yrs / 9 yrs||challenge / serology|
|Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2)||7 yrs / 9 yrs||challenge-CAV-1 / serology|
|Canine Parvovirus-2 (CAV-2)||7 yrs||challenge / serology|
|Canine Rabies||3 yrs / 7yrs||challenge / serology|
Dr. Schultz concludes in his 2010 paper, Age and Long-term Protective Immunity in Dogs and Cats, “In general, adaptive immunity following vaccination with modified live virus (MLV) vaccines develops earliest and most effectively in that it is often complete and duration of immunity is often lifelong.”
The veterinary associations have been slow to accept this information, but nonetheless, they do recognize it. The 2011 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines state: “Infectious core vaccines are not only highly effective, they also provide the longest DOI, extending from 5 yr up to the life of the dog. A >3 yr interval is currently recommended for revaccinating adult dogs with infectious viral core vaccines.”
So the table is set. Dr. Schultz is doing repeatable and valid research showing that the core vaccines likely last for the life of the animal. The veterinary associations are stretching their recommendations from three years to more than three years and recognize that vaccinations are not without harm.
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA’s) Principles of Vaccination states that “Unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance, and may increase the risk of adverse post-vaccination events.” They elaborate with: “Possible adverse events include failure to immunize, anaphylaxis, immunosuppression, autoimmune disorders, transient infections, and/or long-term infected carrier states.”
Yet vets continue to ignore these studies and warnings and continue to vaccinate every year or every three years.
Here is an insert from a Merial vaccine. The very one that Dr. Schultz says will last the lifetime of the animal and the veterinary associations warn might cause adverse events. What’s interesting is that both the vaccine manufacturers and the veterinary associations are giving vets complete carte blanche regarding vaccine decisions. The insert tells the vet, “You, the practicing veterinarian, are best qualified to make the final decision for your own practice.”
The problem is, the practicing veterinarian has a financial interest in how many vaccines your dog gets and how often. Large veterinary clinics like Banfield Veterinary Hospitals continue to vaccinate yearly, as do countless smaller clinics. There are over 770 Banfield Veterinary Hospitals with over a million pets registered for their Optimum Wellness Plan. This likely means over a million pets vaccinated yearly when it is obvious that the duration of immunity is longer than a year and the safety of this practice is very questionable.
Yet, nobody is willing to take responsibility for how often your vet chooses to vaccinate. The vaccine manufacturer states that their clearly labelled three-year vaccine can be given yearly if the vet so chooses. The veterinary association will only make guidelines but will not enforce them. Both the AAHA and the AVMA must do more to “step up to the plate” says noted immunologist, Dr. Richard Ford. But the reality is, the vets are told by the vaccine manufacturers and the veterinary associations that they are the ultimate vaccine authority.
“Profits are what vaccine critics believe is at the root of the profession’s resistance to update its protocols. Without the lure of vaccines, clients might be less inclined to make yearly veterinary visits. Vaccines add up to 14 percent of the average practice’s income, AAHA reports, and veterinarians stand to lose big. I suspect some are ignoring my work,” says Schultz, who claims some distemper vaccines last as long as 15 years. “Tying vaccinations into the annual visit became prominent in the 1980s and a way of practicing in the 1990s. Now veterinarians don’t want to give it up.”
Are you prepared to accept your vet as the Ultimate Vaccine Authority?