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Investigative Report Asks: Are some vets lying about rabies vaccinations?

July 30, 2011 25 comments

I’m confused. I really am.

Recently, I watched a Fox 9 News investigation into how some veterinarians are telling people they need to get their pet re-vaccinated for rabies every two years. This might not sound strange until you realize that there are only two vaccinations available to vets – a one-year and a three-year. There is no two-year vaccine. So why the confusion? Why would vets recommend that people get their dogs vaccinated every two years instead of every three?

You can see the full report here: http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=10588

Investigators: Vets, Vaccines and Vagaries: MyFoxTWINCITIES.com

I know many veterinarians and have found all of them to be amazing people. They dedicate their lives to loving and caring for our pets. They are there with us in our last moments with our beloved pets. They feel our pain when it’s time to say goodbye, but they experience it on a daily basis. Dr Shawn Finch, DVM, is a great example of an amazing vet. She wrote about the tough part of being a vet over at Life With Dogs. Dr. Lorie Huston is another amazing vet. She spends her time educating folks on a whole variety of pet health issues on a daily basis at her blog The Pet Health Care Gazette. I would gladly lump my vet into the same category as these two amazing women. So, I don’t believe that vets are inherently trying to deceive us.That’s why I am so confused. Why would some vets choose to over-vaccinate a pet? Is it a drug company recommendation? Or, is it something else?

I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t making a mountain out of a molehill, so I went searching for more information on the rabies vaccine. This interview conducted by Dr. Karen Becker with Dr. Ronald Schultz, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, is quite interesting. Dr. Schultz explains that there is a lot of confusion about how long the rabies vaccination lasts because no one has ever really done a study to find out how it lasts. Why? Because a study like that is expensive and takes a lot of time. But I also wanted to know what is the difference between the one-year and three-year vaccine? Here is Dr. Schultz’s response.

Well, most of them are the same. They’re the same product, it’s just that when the studies are done, they did a one-year study, and when the product worked, they had a one-year license. They had a group of dogs that they waited two more years for the three years to come up and that same product became a three-year product. Except there may be some that are a
bit different — some actually may have more adjuvant in them if they are a three-year product. There are some differences.

He also said:

Every one of the major veterinary manufacturers of vaccines has done a three-year minimum duration of immunity study with their core vaccines, and they have all demonstrated their products provide a minimum of three-year duration of immunity. That should say something to every veterinarian that’s out there. That’s wondering “Can I really go three years?” for every dog owner that’s out there. The answer is yes.

Here is the full interview:

So if the vaccine really is good for three years, is it just a lack of knowledge about the latest research? Is it a matter of being over-cautious?

Last year, I had Daisy and Jasper vaccinated at a vaccination clinic held at a local rescue organizations’ headquarters. I never bothered to look at the official paperwork until now. Guess what? The paperwork doesn’t even mention a three-year vaccine. It only has spots for a one-year and two-year vaccination. So what gives? What is this all about? Can anyone tell me why some vets are telling people to vaccinate their pets every two years when it’s not needed?

Update: Many thanks to Dr. Lorie Huston for taking on this topic in her blog post, How Often Does Your Pet Need to Vaccinated for Rabies? It answers a lot of my questions and maybe yours as well.

Additional Info:
Rabies Vaccination Laws by State
Rabid Cats and Dogs Reported in the United States during 2009
Rabid Dogs Reported in the United States during 2009
STATE Rabies Laws

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