August is National Immunization Awareness Month
Posted August 02, 2018
Immunizations are one of the easiest ways to ensure that your
pet lives a long and healthy life.
According to Dr. Kate Creevy, an associate professor at the
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences, vaccinations are an essential component of preventative
medicine for companion animals.
“The diseases against which vaccinations have been developed are
typically highly dangerous, highly contagious, or both,” Creevy
said. “Vaccinations can protect pets from serious disease or
potential death and can also minimize the spread of disease among
Vaccines contain some or all of the inactivated protein parts of
pathogens that cause infectious disease. After vaccination, the
animal’s immune system recognizes the pathogen from these
inactivated parts—if the animal is exposed to the real disease in
the future, their immune system is capable of fighting back against
it. This, in turn, prevents, or substantially limits, sickness in
the vaccinated animal.
“Most initial vaccinations are given to puppies and kittens
between 6 and 8 weeks of age, or to adult animals with no known
vaccine history, in a series of several injections,” Creevy
explained. “Dogs and cats should be boosted at 1 year of age, and
after that core vaccinations should be boosted every three years.
Many of the non-core vaccines are boosted more often.”
Core vaccines are those that all dogs and cats should receive.
These immunizations prevent diseases like rabies, distemper,
parvovirus, and hepatitis in dogs, and herpesvirus, calicivirus,
and panleukopenia in cats.
Non-core vaccines are used more selectively because the diseases
they prevent are less dangerous, are only dangerous to certain
groups of animals, or only exist in certain parts of the country.
These diseases include Lyme disease and kennel cough in dogs.
“The owner and the veterinarian can discuss each individual
pet’s risk of disease and decide whether or not each individual pet
should be vaccinated with any of the non-core vaccines,” Creevy
Creevy reminds pet owners that vaccinations are always safest
and most effective when administered by a veterinarian, and when it
comes to the risks and side effects associated with vaccines, she
advices owners to consult with their veterinarian before making any
“Modern vaccines are highly effective and generally safe;
however, adverse events can occur with the administration of any
medical substance, which is why administration by a veterinarian in
a medical facility is always preferred,” she said.
According to Creevy, the most common adverse effects of
vaccinations include pain, swelling or soreness at or around the
injection site. If any other side effects are noted, Creevy
suggests owners speak with their veterinarian as soon as
This National Immunization Awareness Month, remember that
establishing a relationship with your veterinarian and determining
an immunization strategy tailored to your pet’s age and health
status will promote a long, happy, and, most importantly, healthy
lifestyle for your four-legged friend.
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