With the research the last 5 -10yrs showing that vaccines licensed for 1 year last much longer in cats and dogs, and Imrab 3 rabies vaccine licenced for 3yrs in I think everything but horses you do start to wonder if we are over vaccinating our horses. Has anyone seen any challenge studies on horses that prove or disprove that the vaccines are only effective for a year? Or has no one done any testing beyond proving they are effective for 1yr required for licensing?
Vaccines are approved based on titers. But the recommendation for "yearly" vaccines is also partially based on convenience. If one cared to dig VERY deeply into the data used for approval one might find that a given vaccine supports adequate titers in 95% of horses for 14 months, or 15, or 11. But not many people really feel like having the vet out 3 separate times to do each particular vaccine based on that information. Yearly is convenient.
The so-called risks of over-vaccinating are largely fabricated anyway.
I can certainly see lumping 11 months and 14 month titres into yearly - allows for convenience as you say and for human error. But if distemper and rabies vaccines are providing protective titres 3 years later in dogs, why are horses' vaccines generally 1 year? Are modern horses underblessed in the immune system or are the titres just not checked for longer periods?
I have had a few vaccine reactions, that were probably more related to the carrier agent then the vaccine, but they do make you less enthusiastic about poking your horses with needles in general. I am not anti-vaccine, would just prefer to minimise them - ie common protocol for dogs in my area was after 2yrs of annuals, to alternate between rabies and distemper complex so 1 vaccine per year.
My dog had not been vaccinated for eight years and they ran titers for rabies, etc., and he still had adequate immunities to all. For dogs and cats there was the concern that certain vaccines were causing can cancer hence they began giving them in the legs because you can amputate them. The cancers seemed to be located where the vaccines were given. Most vets here no longer do yearly and are even pushing to get the rabies requirement pushed out to less often or adequate titers...
But have not heard vaccines linked to any sort of cancers in horses. Just that they don't keep up with the strains of flu like they do in people, so less likely to prevent flu by vaccinating often. I have one mare who has auto immune issues who would have all kinds of horrible reactions so we haven't vaccinated her in years. Would be interesting to run titers on her one day, but not till the costs come down or some vet wants to do "research".
The question should not be how often to vaccinate but rather is your herd closed? How often do you travel? how often do horses pass through your property?
When my old guy was competing around the US, I was having to vaccinate twice a year both due to the rules and to protect him from both regional diseases and international ones. Since he has retired to my home, I haven't vaccinated in 3 years. The herd at home is pretty closed. Maybe a new horse every 2-3 years and mine doesn't travel off the property anymore.
However, my new competition horse gets the full treatment as established by me and my vets (as well as what is dictated by the FEI etc.). So, even if the titers show one thing, my horse's vaccination schedule still am controlled by national/international rules.
Rayers I can certainly see not vaccinating for diseases transmited by horse contact, but what about insect transmitted diseases?
It would be interesting to run titres on Candico's mare, can you blackmail your vet?
I have been told by holistic gurus that certain vaccines can provide sufficent immunity for up to 10yrs but they can never seem to have actual documented proof - that's a leap of faith I am not willing to make without. I guess if I win the lottery I'll just have to fund a study.
Right now the vets and pharma. have a good thing going--annual vaccs. are one of the biggest profit centers for an equine practice. My own vet told me so! A good side-benefit is the horses get seen at least once every year, giving the vet a good opportunity to catch problems, troubleshoot, and educate owners.
Now why would anybody want to go messing up that nice cozy little situation with Inconvenient Facts?
By all means every owner is free to self-vaccinate, to choose to do so every 14, 18, 29 or 72 months or however they wish to handle it. But there is something to be said for having a good working relationship with a vet who knows one's horses, which includes said vet cheerfully coming when one NEEDS them, not simply when one feels like having them out.
The couple hundred dollars mine charges twice a year for shots, checkup, fecal, etc. is MORE than worth it. His markup on vaccines is tiny. If it were an unfair markup, I would have the option to discuss pricing with him or find another vet.
There as Deltawave says, is the heart of the matter. No practitioner can survive on emergencies alone. If no one uses a veterinarian except for emergencies, he either must charge a premium for emergency care, and some do, or pack his bags and leave for any area that will use him for routine care. This gives him/her a chance to know the clients and horses under low stress circumstances, and maybe make some helpful suggestions that will avoid the midnight call.
Meanwhile the first group loudly complains. "We have no vets here!!"
I don't know any who vaccinate against the clients wishes.
Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.