The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) endorses the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) report (2002) and the Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP) statement (2003) on canine and feline vaccination, and advises members that they should consider the recommendations particularly recommendation 19 (see below), made in these reports when discussing with owners the relative risks and benefits of vaccination.
The BSAVA believes that vaccination plays a very valuable role in the control of infectious disease in cats and dogs. It recognises that adverse reactions, including lack of efficacy may occasionally occur, but that the overall risk/benefit analysis strongly supports the continued use of vaccination to control major infectious diseases of cats and dogs. The BSAVA strongly supports the concept that a thorough risk /benefit assessment on an individual case basis should be discussed with clients when deciding on timing of vaccination and use of particular vaccines for particular animals. The BSAVA strongly supports all scientifically valid research into the epidemiology, control and prevention of canine and feline infectious diseases in the UK and the publication of such research, so as to provide veterinary surgeons with appropriate information on which to base decisions. The BSAVA strongly supports further research into improving efficacy and safety of vaccines.
The BSAVA does not endorse the use of nosode vaccines for companion animals and believes that there is no evidence base to support their efficacy. The BSAVA particularly advises against the use of nosodes in a legal context (e.g. Local Authority inspection of kennelled animals). The BSAVA supports the use of the wide range of high quality, safe and efficacious licensed veterinary vaccines. The BSAVA believes that all animals should receive the benefit of solid protective immunity from life-threatening infectious diseases that is conferred by vaccination using licensed veterinary products. The BSAVA endorses the concept that tailored vaccine programmes should be applied to as many animals as possible within a population to maintain the level of protective immunity within that population.
The BSAVA strongly endorses the importance of pharmacovigilance and the VMD Suspected Adverse Reactions Reporting Scheme.
In recent years there has been much discussion and concern within and outwith the veterinary profession over current protocols for vaccination of companion animals (dog and cat). The major concern has been the spectrum of adverse reactions that have been associated with the administration of vaccines, and related to this, the issue of frequency of administration of vaccine boosters.
The veterinary profession in North America has taken a proactive approach to dealing with these issues. There have been a number of independent scientific papers, and a co-ordinated approach to the specific issue of injection site fibrosarcoma in cats through the formation of the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force (VAFSTF). In addition, several organisations have established scientific working parties that have published specific guidelines on the administration of vaccines to companion animals. These have included reports from the American Association of Feline Practitioners and Academy of Feline Medicine (Revised guidelines to be published in 2006), the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents (2002), and the American Animal Hospital Association (2006).These reports have emphasised the safety of current vaccines, acknowledged the potential for adverse reactions, and recommended new guidelines based on the concept of ‘core’ versus ‘non core’ products, and the extension of current revaccination intervals.
In Europe and the United Kingdom, the discussion on these issues has been far less prominent. This may reflect the fact that there are far fewer licensed vaccines available for use in Europe compared to North America. The single most significant contribution has been the report of the UK VPC on feline and canine vaccination, published in full in 2002, and summarised in the Veterinary Record (2002). The majority of the recommendations were accepted by the government and their response published in (2003). The VPC report emphasises the safety and value of vaccination, and presents UK data on the very low prevalence of adverse reactions to these products in dogs and cats.
On the issue of extended booster intervals, the VPC recommends that until such time as more extensive scientific evidence is presented, there is insufficient basis to alter the current data sheet recommendations for companion animal vaccines. The report suggests however, that owners might request veterinary surgeons to use revaccination intervals different from those recommended by the manufacturer following an informed discussion of the relative risks and benefits.
On the issue of feline fibrosarcoma, the report recognises the value of the VAFSTF recommendations on the administration of feline vaccines to standardised body sites. The statement on injection site sarcoma by the Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP; 2003) broadly endorses the VPC report, but does not support the practice of administration of monovalent vaccines to different body sites.
A ‘nosode’ vaccine is derived from infected animal tissue or live micro-organisms, but this material is subsequently diluted to the point where there is insignificant (or no) micro-organism present. Nosodes are generally given by oral administration and there is no requirement that the product be actually swallowed by the animal. Nosodes are unlicensed veterinary products and there is no scientific evidence base to support their efficacy. By contrast, there is evidence that nosodes do not generate protective immunity. In one anecdotal study of a canine parvovirus nosode, there was no protection of ‘nosode-vaccinated’ dogs subsequently challenged with virulent parvovirus. The use of nosodes therefore is regarded as putting individual pet animals at risk from contracting infectious disease and moreover weakens the population immunity to infection thereby allowing the more ready emergence of outbreaks of infectious disease.
The BSAVA is a member organization of the WSAVA which has currently convened a Vaccination Guidelines Group. The BSAVA endorses the WSAVA Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats (2007).
- CVMP Advice on Injection-Site Fibrosarcomas in Cats. (2003) Veterinary Record 152, 381-382.
- Day MJ, Horzinek M and Schultz RD. WSAVA Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats. (September 2007) Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Elston T, Rodan I, Flemming D, Ford RB, Hustead DR, Richards JR, Rosen DK, Sherk-Nixon MA and Scott FW, Report of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and Academy of Feline Medicine Advisory Panel on Feline Vaccines. (1998) JAVMA 212, 227-241.
- Ford RB, Vaccines and vaccinations: the strategic issues. (2001) Veterinary Clinics of North America Small Animal Practice 31, 439-453.
- Gaskell R, Gettinby G, Graham S and Skilton D, Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) Working Group on Canine and Feline Vaccination. (2002) Final Report to the VPC. DEFRA Publications, London, ISBN: 0-9531234-5-6.
- Gaskell RM, Gettinby G, Graham SJ and Skilton D, Veterinary Products Committee Working Group Report on Feline and Canine Vaccination. (2002) Veterinary Record 150, 126-134.
- Klingborg DJ, Hustead DR, Curry-Galvin EA, Gumley NR, Henry SC, Bain FT, Paul MA, Boothe DM, Blood KS, Huxsoll DL, Reynolds DL, Riddell Jr MG, Reid JS and Short CR, AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents’ Report on Cat and Dog Vaccines. (2002) JAVMA 221, 1401-1407.
- Paul MA, Carmichael LE, Childers H, Cotter S, Davidson A, Ford R, Hurley KF, Roth JA, Schultz RD, Thacker E, and Welborn L, AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines. (2006) AAHA website.
Government response to the recommendations contained in the report of the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) working group on feline and canine vaccination. Published on the VMD website www.vmd.gov.uk
Approval: BSAVA Council as Policy Statement No. 30 (Companion Animal Vaccination Protocols and Adverse Reactions to Vaccines) 2003.
Recent update: September 2007