Feline Health - Safety of Vaccinations

Veterinary Products Committee - reports

A new report from the working group set up as part of the Veterinary Products Committee in response to public and scientific concern about the possible health risks attached to annual vaccinations in dogs and cats issued the following final recommendations:

"The working group wishes to emphasise that vaccination plays a very valuable role in the control of infectious disease in cats and dogs.
Although adverse reactions, including lack of efficacy, occasionally occur, the working group is convinced that the overall risk/benefit analysis favours the continued use of vaccination to control the major infectious diseases of dogs and cats.
There is a need for further improvements in conventional vaccines and for further research into the role that recombinant technology can play in developing safer and more efficacious vaccines. The need to develop vaccines for cats and dogs against additional or emerging diseases should be approached on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind the importance of keeping unnecessary vaccination to a minimum.
The working group recommends that a thorough risk/benefit analysis should be the basis of all decisions relating to vaccination, whether in terms of authorising the vaccine itself or in the use of a particular vaccine for an individual animal"

Data showed that the incidence of adverse reactions to dog and cat vaccines per 10 000 doses of product was "relatively low". However under-reporting was said to be a feature of such surveillance. The committee admitted that due to a number of constraints, the analysis was not fully comprehensive and the "interaction of possible risk factors" was not determined. Evidence should that cats occasionally develop sarcomas at sites of injection and the there is evidence that although other products may be involved, these may be associated with vaccines containing aluminium-based adjuvant. It was also agreed in view of the occasional occurrence of adverse reactions that product literature should indicate that the yearly booster vaccinations was based on a minimum duration of immunity rather than a maximum.

Although for some diseases there is evidence of a longer duration of immunity following vaccination that the one year which is typically recommended on the product literature, there is currently insufficient information to propose re-vaccination intervals other that those proposed by the manufacturer and approved by the regulatory process.

The full report is available from the DEFRA Publications, Admail 6000, London. SW1A 2XX. It is also on the VPC's website as www.vpc.gov.uk

ALWAYS seek the advise of your veterinarian