Booster is the name given to a vaccine dose used to ‘top up' an initial vaccine course. In dogs, cats and horses, our society seems to have gravitated to a ‘once yearly' or annual booster program. For some vaccines, the standard recommended interval is even shorter. In rare cases, it can be longer.
Despite the modern clamour for ‘evidence based medicine' (EBM), there is no science supporting an annual boosting program. It is very difficult, therefore, to explain why we do this to our animals.
There is even less science to support giving a course of two vaccination boosters to an animal whose annual boosters may have lapsed by a year or so.
In equine sport, many organisations require annual vaccination for entry and will not even allow a single day over. If a booster were to be missed by a day, the whole course has to be restarted. There is no science supporting this reckless practice (habit).
The AVMC believes that these practices are dangerous and, where not governed by sporting rules, we recommend that you should think very carefully and research the subject deeply, before consigning your precious animal to the risk of a booster. We believe an animal should never be subjected to a course restart (double booster).
Where sporting rules are explicit, clearly there is no choice if you wish to compete but there is room for lobbying the relevant body or committee to explain the hazards and to review policies, taking into account ALL of the evidence. If sporting bodies were to be held responsible for any damage that might ensue from vaccination under their rules, perhaps they may study the arguments more closely.
Antibody testing (titre testing) is often offered to dog ‘owners' who are deliberating whether to boost or not. These are of limited value in measuring real-life immunity.
The AVMC recommends not to take a pet abroad, because of what is required by law, under the Pet Passport Scheme.
The AVMC believes that all animal ‘owners' should research the topic widely, before arriving at an informed opinion.
We believe that ALL suspect adverse reactions to vaccine should be reported (SARSS Scheme). These should not be filtered at source.
There are other pages in this site, referring to this issue (see below for a selection). The AVMC calls for an active, ongoing and open debate among all interested parties (what are now for some reason called stakeholders) on this serious animal welfare topic.
N.B.: Our ongoing research has shown that, where a start date can be confirmed, in at least 80% of cases chronic disease in dogs starts within 3 months of a vaccination or booster event. The POOCH study did not disprove this fact, gleaned from the great many veterinary clinical records received by this practice.
In common with the majority of our clients, we do not vaccinate our animals at all, preferring to rely on the homeopathic method (Nosodes), from which we have seen no adverse effects.