Considering Vaccinating Your Horse Yourself?

WHOA! Consider these issues before you do your own vaccinations!

The benefits of having a veterinarian perform your horse’s vaccinations are numerous! Here are just a few:

1. Creates a Valid Veterinary-client-patient-relationship. This means you have an agreement with your veterinarian who knows you and your horse, allowing them to treat, advise and dispense medications for your horse.

2. Health exam and history before vaccination. Your horse needs to be healthy to receive the vaccines. Your veterinarian is trained to catch early and subtle issues that might make vaccination contraindicated. Current illness, PPID, uveitis, laminitis, pregnancy, allergies, previous vaccine reactions, exposure to Strangles may be red flags to your doctor to change recommendations for vaccination.

3. A farm call gives the opportunity for nutrition consult and husbandry issues. Your veterinarian needs to see your horse and farm to know how to manage their weight and herd issues.

4. Other routine procedures can be performed at the same visit, such as sheath cleaning dental exam/float, Coggins, fecal. This saves money on farm calls.

5. A visit can allow other important biosecurity measures to be discussed. Vaccination is just one very small part in the overall biosecurity of your horse and farm.

6. Your veterinarian will make the proper choice of vaccine brand, type and schedule. They will use current research and experience to make these choices. Your veterinarian will give you the most up to date advice using risk based analysis on which vaccines to give. They will be able to give you the current evidence based advice on core vs non-core vaccines needed in your area.

They will also make sure the vaccines are given at the right time of year and inform if any boosters are needed. This will make sure you also do not over vaccinate your horse. This ensures your horse has been properly vaccinated. Most vaccine failure is due to improper scheduling.

They will also remind you of boosters if you like. Foals, weanlings and geriatric horses also need different vaccines than do adults.

7. Vaccines must be handled properly. This means that they must remain at a constant temperature (35-45F), some stored in the dark, and “in date”. Thermometers are kept in all refrigerators in veterinary hospitals (required by the state) and trucks. If they become frozen or hot, they are ineffective and

more prone to adverse events. No online pharmacy or farm store can guarantee their vaccines have this type of chain of command of quality control.

8. New vaccines are often available. Your veterinarian will have the inside scoop on whether to use them, as manufactures will always host educational seminars for veterinarians before a new vaccine launch.

9. Outbreaks of disease such as Strangles, Botulism, EHV-1, Potomac Horse Fever, Eastern Encephalitis and West Nile will often lead to changes in vaccination recommendations. Your veterinarian will be the first to know about these issues and have educated trained advice to give.

10. Proper vaccination site and route selections will occur due to Veterinary training and experience. Many lay people do not know the correct site to inject or proper technique. Improper site or technique leads to an increase in adverse events such as muscle neck pain, abscess formation, and poor immune response.

11. Immediate treatment for anaphylaxis by your veterinarian who is trained for this serious adverse event. The most serious form of anaphylaxis must be treated immediately, which is not possible if your veterinarian must travel to your farm. They also know how to report these serious reactions to make sure other horses do not suffer the same problem.

12. The cost for treatment of adverse events is covered by the manufacturer if the vaccine has been administered by a veterinarian. Vaccines are “labeled” to be given by a veterinarian.

13. Most Insured horses must be vaccinated by a veterinarian according to the contract.

14. Manufacturer Vaccine Assurance Programs cover costs for treatment of vaccinated horses that contract the disease (vaccine break). But only if vaccine administered by a veterinarian!

15. Rabies vaccine is only recognized by state of Virginia if given by a veterinarian. While rare, this means that if you vaccinate your horse and an exposure to a rabid animal occurs, the horse will be required to be euthanized.

16. Wellness and colic programs coverage only remains intact when vaccines are given by a vet.

17. Paperwork for shows (such as the new USEF GR845) is completed correctly and always available.