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Over-Vaccination Comments Over-Stated

8 February 2010

The Courier Mail on Friday 5 February ran a story (external site) stating that "hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs are being over-medicated with unnecessary annual vaccinations" based on a Position Statement published by the APVMA on 21 January 2010.

Whilst the story was broadly correct, it overstated the APVMA’s views.

The APVMA considers that annual re-vaccination with 'core' vaccines (see our Position Statement for 'core' and 'non-core' vaccines) over the lifetime of dogs and cats is not necessary, except in exceptional circumstances.

The decision on whether and when to re-vaccinate should be made by the veterinarian and the owner, together.

The APVMA is working with vaccine companies with a view to amend labels that imply a need for life-long annual revaccination with 'core' vaccines.

There are some (non-core) vaccines that should be given more often than the core vaccines, but which are only necessary for animals at risk from those diseases.

While older, already immune animals may be being vaccinated more often than is necessary, there is a risk that media attention to this subject may reduce the rate of vaccination in young animals.  It is important to have as many puppies and kittens as possible adequately vaccinated when young; there is a need for greater vaccine coverage rather than less.

The APVMA and the Australian Veterinary Association published a joint statement (external site) on February 5 2010 to clarifying the statements made in the Courier Mail article.