Last year, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) changed its vaccination guidelines. The brief history below shows why the decision was made to change vaccinations from annually, to every three years.
Routine annual revaccination of adult animals became the accepted norm.
US vets noticed an alarming increase in the number of tumours occurring in cats. These “new” tumours were located in parts of the body where vaccine was typically injected – for example, between the shoulder blades.
An association between injection of adjuvanted vaccines against both the leukaemia virus and rabies and the development of injection-site sarcomas (malignant tumours) in cats was soon confirmed.
Experts began to question whether adult cats and dogs were being over-vaccinated. Several American veterinary schools switched to a triennial schedule of booster vaccinations against core viruses; Massey University in New Zealand followed suit three years later.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has been advising vets to continue vaccinating pets with core vaccines, but to reduce their frequency in order to minimise the potential for adverse reactions. In its revised guidelines released this year, the WSAVA states that “core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 12-month booster injection following the puppy/kitten series, because the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet”.
The AVA issued a revised policy stating that in most cases core vaccines need not be administered any more frequently than triennially, or even less so under certain circumstances, such as if your pet is kept inside and less likely to come into contact with these viruses.