National Immunization Month: Vaccines and Vaccinations

2020 VACCINES & VACCINATION: 20 Questions…and the “Must Know” Answers 

Richard B. Ford, DVM, MS
Emeritus Professor of Medicine
Diplomate ACVIM and ACVPM (Hon)
North Carolina State University 

Each year this ‘Vaccines & Vaccinations’ manuscript is updated to reflect the most current changes in the vaccine marketplace as well as to provide additional insights on vaccination recommendations for dogs and cats that directly impact veterinarians in clinical practice. This year is no exception…. 

However, in 2020, it’s not new vaccines, new vaccine technologies, or even revised recommendations that is taking center stage…instead, the “ISSUE” du jour is the emerging trend toward decreased vaccination compliance. 

IN HUMAN MEDICINE the decline is vaccination compliance has been documented over the past decade. According to some public health experts, this decline is pushing infectious disease prevention BELOW acceptable thresholds for “community health”…aka, HERD HEALTH. 

BUT, IT APPEARS THAT THE TREND TOWARD DECREASED VACCINATION COMPLIANCE MAY BE IMPACTING VETERINARY MEDICINE AS WELL…despite the continued increase in pet ownership. Client concerns, from what we can tell, seem to center on: pet over-vaccination, administration of unnecessary vaccines, and vaccine-associated injury. For that reason, this year’s presentation includes a perspective on client compliance with vaccination recommendations…is compliance down in your practice? is this a concern? If so…what are your views on how this course might be reversed? 

As a reminder, Canine Vaccination Guidelines were revised in 2017, and updated in 2019, have been significantly expanded to reflect a number of key emerging issues impacting veterinarians in practice: 

  • Therapeutic Biologics (biologics licensed to TREAT disease) 
  • Antibody Testing (vs. Vaccination) in Practice 
  • Protocols for patients that are Overdue for Vaccination 
  • A special section on Rabies and Rabies Immunization laws (by State) 
  • Vaccine Handling and Storage (this may surprise you!) 
  • Vaccine Adverse Reactions (aka, “vaccine adverse events”)…and more. 

At issue today is how might this information be used to support vaccination protocols and encourage client compliance. 

AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines (last published in 2013) are still in effect, although they are in review at this time. An updated version is expected to be released late this year. Feline vaccination recommendations, and new information pertaining to the use and selection of vaccines for cats, will be addressed during the presentation. 

A Reminder… Vaccination Guidelines for the Dog and Cat are recommendations only, not requirements. Protocols for individual animals may vary and should not be limited to recommendations listed. The reader is reminded, however, in States/jurisdictions/provinces where rabies immunization laws are in place, veterinarians are expected to know the law and must follow a vaccination protocol that is consistent with applicable statutes. 

NOTE: Published vaccination recommendations for the dog and cat are based, whenever possible, on the results of current scientific studies. However, scientific studies are not always available to support all recommendations. In this lecture and in the Guidelines, recommendations are based on credible science, expert opinion, as well as current knowledge of immunology and infectious disease. In addition, readers may notice variances between recommendations put forward by vaccine manufacturers and published Guidelines. Any such variances included in TABLES 1 & 2 have been reviewed by all vaccine manufacturers; recommendations outlined are considered to be safe, effective, and consistent with best immunization practices today.


Click here to read the full paper and access the GVMA Learning Library for on-demand CE on rabies, vaccinology, vector-borne diseases, and more.