Sunday, September 23, 2018

On Farm Vaccination Info

After my little snit-fit yesterday, I got to thinking that I should explain some of the ins & outs about using vaccines. 

Vaccinations are a great help to avoid having to use antibiotics and to prevent animal deaths. That's probably the number one reason farmers use vaccines. Pet owners vaccinate their pets primarily because they have been told it's the proper thing to do, plus they don't want to risk having their pets die. It's only after an unvaccinated pet gets sick that they learn about how expensive the veterinary treatment can be, plus learn that their pet might still die anyway. 

Most farmers/ranchers do their own vaccinations. As for pet owners, that depends upon the region that they live. Most urbanites and suburbanites have veterinarians vaccinate the pet. Rural, remote, and economically depressed regions see more owner vaccination vs veterinary administered vaccinations. Personally, as long as the user gets educated about vaccines and vaccinations, plus is willing to assume the risks, I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to do home vaccinations.   

Things to consider in order to effectively vaccinate at home........

First, it's imperative to use the correct vaccine. Vaccines are matched to the specific animal species and a specific disease. 

Owner needs to read label thoroughly to determine the correct method to inject the vaccine. And the correct amount of vaccine to use. If the vaccine is given incorrectly, the animal may get no protection, and even worse, become ill. The owner needs to learn the correct way to administer untranasal, subcutaneous, intramuscular, and/or intradermal injections. 

Care must be used to inject correctly and use the correct size needle and syringe. This also goes along with needing to know how to correctly restrain the animal so that the injection can be properly made. 

Injecting mechanisms and syringes & needle need to be sterile and properly cleaned. Leaving residual disinfecting solution behind could make the vaccine ineffective, besides causing site reactions and/or infections.

The time period between vaccination and slaughter needs to be determined and followed if the animal is destined for human food. 

Vaccines need to be transported and stored correctly, otherwise they are ineffective. 
If not already in liquid form, they need to be mixed (liquid part mixed with dry powder part) correctly and used within a specified time period. 

Not all vaccines for a particular disease work the same way. So in a vaccination series, using different brands for each vaccination may not be effective. Stick with the same brand and vaccine through a vaccination series. 

Mistakes I've seen made...
...transporting vaccine from the store in one's pocket. I've also seen vaccines sitting on the dashboard of the pickup truck. I've seen people leave the vaccine sitting out on a countertop for hours before using it. 
...freezing the vaccine 
...using outdated vaccine 
...reconstituting the vaccine too far ahead of time. 
...using cat vaccine in a dog
...mixing two vaccines together in the same syringe. 
...injecting SQ (subcutaneous, that is, under the skin) a vaccine meant to be given IM (into a muscle) 
...using too small of a needle
...injecting in the wrong location, which applies mostly to livestock that will be slaughtered. 
...not having the animal restrained while attempting to vaccinate 
...vaccinating an ill or debilitated animal
...not vaccinating according to the correct schedule. 
...using a dirty syringe & needle, or one that was incorrectly resterilized 
...administering the vaccine via the wrong method. I've seen vaccines designed for intramuscular injection bring given "sub-q" (that is, SQ or subcutaneous.)

Occasionally an animal can have an adverse reaction to a vaccine. It doesn't happen often, but it can. Most reactions are not life threatening (hives, lethargy, fever, swelling at injection site, limping, etc), but rarely they can be. Thus most breeders and farmer/ranchers who do their own vaccinations keep epinephrine on hand to treat anaphylaxis, a life threatening reaction. In the 29 years I worked in veterinary medicine, I only witnessed 2 cases of anaphylaxis initiated by vaccines. So it doesn't occur very often. But when it does, you had better have epinephrine handy. 

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