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Shot Based Analysis

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One a Day

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© Jennifer Hewitson, 760-944-6154

 

Is Your Pet Dying From Over-Vaccination Due to Vet Economics?

 

Nationally and internationally, companion animals (pets) are being over-vaccinated - a practice that is resulting in vaccine related deaths, severe illnesses, reduced longevity and large monetary costs to guardians (pet owners).

 

The most common practice is the annual administration of rabies vaccine, based upon the oft-stated supposition that an annual booster is necessary to maintain the vaccine's effectiveness. In reality, there is no research substantiating that practice, and veterinary schools and professional associations increasingly are embracing a triennial administration standard.

 

A study of more than 1,000 cats and 1,000 dogs in the United Kingdom by Canine Health Concern in March 2001 showed a 1 in 10 risk of adverse reaction from vaccines! The study, which tracked over a seven-month period the health of cats and dogs vaccinated by one UK veterinarian, found that 7.54% to 12.42% of the dogs had adverse reactions within a 45-day period post-vaccination. An almost-identical number of cats - from 7.56% to 12.44% -- also suffered adverse reactions within 45 days. This is quite contradictory to the vaccine-manufacturers' claim that less than 15 adverse reactions occur out of 100,000 companion animals vaccinated. The UK study results were reported at the 99% confidence level. Vaccine manufacturers rely on adverse-reaction statistics from the vets themselves.

 

In our opinion many vets continue to cling to the annual rabies shot has less to do with a cautious standard of care and more to do with their economic dependence on vaccinations for fiscal solvency. This is especially true of a substantial - if not vast - majority of small vet practices (1-3 people, non-specialty, non-emergency practice).

 

A vial of rabies vaccine costs the veterinarian about 61 cents and is typically administered at a cost to the guardian of from $15 to $38 - not including the $35 office visit. In perspective, an 18-oz. package of Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes® is $2.20 to the grocer and approximately $2.75 retail. If the grocer's mark-up were comparable to that of rabies vaccine, Frosted Flakes would cost $137 without the office visit and more than $260 with it. To borrow Tony the Tiger's expression, that size of a mark-up is "Gr-r-reat!"®

 

Take out 1 year of rabies vaccination and the consequential office visit-- just for dogs -- and the average small-practice vet's income drops from approximately $87,000 to $25,000 -- and this doesn't include cats or other vaccinations!

 

The Veterinarian "Shot-based Practice" Model is a systemically flawed economic approach and potentially detrimental to companion animals. Bad practice-management becomes bad medicine, resulting in unnecessary -- and widespread -- death, illness, reduced longevity of companion animals and unnecessary cost to owners.

 

 

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Shot Based Practice Analysis

 

The vast majority of dog owners vaccinate yearly. There is an arguably safer choice --the three year rabies vaccination option -- but many, many in the veterinarian community are not informing the guardians (pet owners) to the potential detriment of their animal companions’ (pets’) life, health, and longevity.

 

Could economics be a factor in this lethargic effort on the part of many vets to provide their clients with an opportunity for informed consent?

 

Yearly rabies vaccination is big business and materially impacts the small-animal vet practice!

 

We can make these assumptions based upon various surveys and studies printed by animal association groups and trade associations.

· Average vet has 2,500 dogs and cats (45% dogs).

· Cost of vial of rabies vaccine is 61 cents.

· Cost of inoculation is between $15 and $38 yearly not including office visit.

· Cost of office visit is approximately $35.

· Price markup on rabies vaccine: 2400% to 6200% and again, this does not include the office visit.

 

If 100% of the dogs in the average one-vet practice are annually given the rabies vaccine= 2,500*.45 (dogs per practice) or 1,125 dogs.

The gross operating profit (after cost of goods, 61cents per shot) equals:

@$15 per shot, a net of $14.39 = $16,189.

@$38 per shot, a net of $37.39 = $42,064.

 

If the three year option is exercised (versus a yearly vaccination for rabies), then each vet loses between $32,000 ($16,000 x 2 years) and $84,000 ($42,000 x 2 years) of operating profit in each three-year vaccination period.

 

Adding office visits (1 a year for 2 years x 1,125 dogs x $35 per visit) = $78,800 of potential lost revenue.

(Note: The guardian should see that his/her companion animal receives a wellness exam at least yearly, which would extinguish this loss.)

 

Now, consider these figures. The:

· Median number of transactions per vet per year in 1997 was 5,102.

· Median gross income per vet in 1997 was $305,000 for a one- person practice.

· Net-income median for a one-vet practice before owner's compensation as a percentage of gross income was 26.8%. Assuming $305,000, that would be$87,300 for the average 1-vet practice.

· Average transaction charge is $58.41 per vet in a one-vet operation.

 

If 1,125 transactions for rabies vaccine would be lost here is the impact on the one-vet practice for the two years the dog doesn't get a rabies vaccine (assuming no replacement revenue).

 

· Transactions go from 5,102 to 3,887 or a 22% decline.

· Gross income falls (at $20 per shot plus $35 for an office visit) by $62,000 from $305,000 to $243,000.

· Net median-income per vet in a one-vet situation could drop from $87,000 to $25,000 or by 71%!

 

And this is only if dogs were inoculated for rabies on a three-year cycle. The impact magnifies with cats going three years on the shot.

 

Source: "Financial and Productivity Pulsepoints: Comprehensive Survey and Analysis of Performance Benchmarks:Vital Statistics For Your Veterinary Practice," published by the American Animal Hospital Association, 1998.

 

The Small Vet (Non-emergency, non-specialist) Shot Model's Systemic Dependence on Transactions Assumptions:

 

- That a $25 rabies shot is eliminated for 1,000 dogs only in one year. (Cats are not considered and parvo virus and distemper shots would still be administered annually).

- Profit on the shot is $24.39 (the cost being 61 cents).

- 26% is the net profit margin.

 

Result: Instead of 1,000 transactions (shots) yielding $24,390, the vet would have to gross $93,807 from other areas of the practice to replace that net revenue. Furthermore, using a $54 average per transaction, the vet would have to conduct 70% more transactions - 1,737 instead of 1,000 - which would mean a 15% increase in workload (the average vet has 5,100 transactions annually) just to be at the same place. Then consider the loss of office-visit revenue and take out cats, and parvo and distemper annually, and the Small Vet Shot Model indicates red ink.

 

It appears that even at 20% of the gross revenue, rabies shots may constitute 100% of the net profits - or even worse, subsidize a net-deficit practice - of average small-vet practices. The loss of two years of shots, on which these practices seem dependent, would have a devastating economic impact if not replaced.

 

It appears that the small-vet economic model is a "shot model," based economically - by design or by evolution - on transactions rather than expertise. Such a model needs to be reexamined for validity of purpose and economic consequences.

 

 

· Vaccine-related cancer in cats: According to Colorado State University Professor Dennis Macey, "the incidence of this often fatal cancer (sarcoma-cancer development at the vaccine site) has been documented by several studies to be 1 to 3.2 per 10,000 cats receiving a rabies vaccine Š If all the cats in Denver (estimated to be 400,000) were to be vaccinated yearly for rabies, the unneeded additional vaccinations would result in an additional 26 to 84 vaccine cancer sites per year! Š I estimate 22,000 vaccine-associated tumors per year. Since surgery is usually unsuccessful, radiation treatment is necessary. Treating all these cats would cost $66 million per year."

-- "Are We Vaccinating Too Much," Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1995

· And this doesn't even consider vaccine related prolonged illness or vaccine compounded deaths or reduced longevity for cats - and doesn't consider the impact on dogs at all!

 

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Mere Property or Next-To-Kin?

 

How much money would it take to persuade you to give up your television set? $3,000? What's that? You say you have a 53" high-definition projection TV that costs more that $3,000? Okay, would you give it up for $30,000?

 

Well, the pet food manufacturer, Iams Co., a division of Proctor & Gamble, commissioned a Gallup poll, which found that 66% of the respondents would not trade their dog or cat for $1,000,000! (Dog Fancy, May 2002 issue)

 

Here are some more facts to chew on:

•An annual American Animal Hospital Survey found that 83% of companion-animal guardians (dog and cat owners) "were somewhat likely … likely … or very likely" to risk their life for their companion animal; 70% said they would spend $1,000 on treatment for a life-threatening illness or accident; 40% would spend any amount necessary.

•Two other studies found that between 44% and 76% of companion animals sleep in their person's bed.

• Midland National Life Insurance Company gives a discount on life insurance for senior citizens who have a dog, as it has been shown that dogs reduce stress (high blood pressure), routine visits to the doctor and, accordingly, medical expenses.

•In a study by Dr. Karen Allen, assistance dogs were able to substitute for paid-human assistance to the elderly or physically challenged in 68% of activities, saving a net-$13,000 a year in costs.

 

"Dogs aren't my whole life, but they make my life whole," wrote the late Roger A. Caras, noted broadcaster, writer and editor.

 

Yet, our laws still classify companion animals (domesticated non-farm animals) as "mere property." In Great Britain dogs and cats are considered sentient beings.

 

Constructively, we are moving to recognize domesticated non-farm animals as beyond mere property in law. Several states now allow dogs and cats effectively to be heirs – via trusts set up for their care after the primary guardian has passed away.

 

It is time to declare companion animals (dogs and cats) to be "beyond mere property" and recognize that they are not mere objects. The value of the animal-human bond, and the companionship generated by that bond, should be legally recognized beyond the depreciated value of the cat or dog. This is not "whack-o animal rights" but simple protection both for the companion animal and for the guardian.

 

By recognizing the value of companion animals to be "beyond mere property, Next-To-Kin," the law could establish significant civil economic penalties for the loss of that companionship through cruelty – be it of the gut-wrenching variety or the silent, systemic, willful acts of over-vaccination by smiling veterinarians. What else would one call economically driven acts that result in unnecessary suffering, illness, reduced healthy life span, and death?

 

As long as these $1,000,000 companion animals are legally considered mere property, there are no deterrents to over-vaccination and other types of self-serving, non-informed consent activities.

 

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The AVMA Has Studied Vaccination Issues

 

Approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association Executive Board, April 2001, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 219, No. 5, September 1, 2001.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Medical decisions about vaccine selection and protocols have become more complex. Selecting vaccine products and recommending vaccine programs are among the most complicated of medical decisions facing veterinarians. The reasons are numerous: continued evolution of our understanding of the immune system; increased value of animals to the owner/client; improved medical-record systems, and longer life-spans allowing the emergence of chronic sequele. Improved understanding of infectious diseases, the strengths and limitations of the biologic regulatory-approval process, and adverse events associated with vaccination also complicate decisions required for best patient care.

 

The Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents (COBTA) has studied the issues of vaccinology and immunology for the past two years. This study included a review of the scientific literature and interactive testimony with four expert groups including academic, regulatory, industry, and practitioner experts. Topics included safety, efficacy, duration of immunity, research and development of vaccines, vaccine licensing, product labeling, adverse events and adverse event reporting, governmental oversight of manufacturers, and legal issues associated with medical procedures.

 

Vaccines have played a significant role in enabling people and animals to live longer in this world filled with microbial pathogens. Vaccine products vary in efficacy and safety. Modern science continues to learn more about the immune systems and to develop strategies and technology for safer and more efficacious vaccines. Thorough evaluations of the risks of the disease, and those potentially associated with the vaccine, compared to the benefits for the patient, are necessary in crafting optimal health recommendations that include vaccination.

 

COBTA concludes that there currently exists inadequate data to scientifically determine a single best protocol for vaccination or revaccination. Advances in antigen science, adjuvant function, impacts of different vaccine carrier solutions, and the immune system's acute and chronic reactions to stimulation are impressive, but there remain gaps in our understanding. The body of knowledge about the variability of genetics within a breed or species, and the resulting impacts on the individual patient's response to vaccine or associated adverse reactions, is increasing but remains insufficient to make general recommendations. COBTA believes that variation in our patients and their lifestyle, and between the individual vaccine products available, requires a customized approach to vaccination recommendations to best match the variation in the patients presented for immunization.

 

The practitioner and client must make the best patient-care decisions where there exists a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Vaccine decisions require a thorough and ongoing review of scientific information and expert opinion of this constantly evolving area to properly prepare the customized vaccine recommendations animal patients require.

 

The one-year revaccination frequency recommendation found on many vaccine labels is based on historical precedent and United Sates Department of Agriculture regulation, not on scientific data. Even in those cases where scientific data was submitted to qualify the label claim, the data generated does not resolve the question about average or maximum duration of immunity.

 

There is evidence that some vaccines provide immunity beyond one year. Revaccination of patients with sufficient immunity does not add measurably to their disease resistance and may increase their risk of adverse post-vaccination events. Vaccination is a potent medical procedure with both benefits and associated hazards.

 

It is not currently possible to determine the immune status of a patient relative to all the infectious diseases of concern without conducting a challenge test. Serology does not predict a patient's immune status for most diseases. For those diseases where serology has predictive value of a patient's immune status, the variation within and between laboratories renders the procedure generally unreliable.

 

Adverse events may be associated with the antigen, adjuvant, carrier, preservative, or a combination thereof. Possible adverse events include failure to immunize, anaphylaxis, immunosuppression, autoimmune disorders, transient infections, and/or long-term infected carrier states. In addition, a causal association in cats between injection sites and the subsequent development of a malignant tumor is the subject of ongoing research. The role of genetic predisposition to adverse events needs further exploration and definition.

 

Vaccine program goals include providing optimal immunity, against clinically relevant diseases the patient is at-risk to contract, while minimizing the potential for adverse events.

 

Multiple sources of information can be of value to practitioners in their review of vaccine and infectious diseases, including scientific data and opinion from experts, species and specialty groups, manufacturers and government agencies. All sources of scientific information and expert opinion need to be carefully and critically considered to properly prepare the customized vaccine programs, animal patients require.

 

PRINCIPLES OF VACCINATION

 

1. Vaccination is a potent medical procedure associated with both benefits and risks for the patient. Adverse events, including some that are potentially severe, can be unintended consequences of vaccination.

 

2. The proper application of vaccines to animal populations has enhanced their health and welfare, and prolonged their life-spans. The risks to animal health from non-vaccination are significant.

 

3. The goal for a vaccination program is to prevent disease and thereby promote optimal patient, herd, and/or public health.

 

4. Different patients require different vaccines and vaccination programs.

 

5. Unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance, and may increase the risk of adverse post-vaccination events.

 

6. Vaccination protects a population of animals by providing a level of resistance to a disease in those individual patients that are able to respond. Vaccination does not protect every individual patient even when they are properly vaccinated.

 

7. Disease carriers, including animals that shed the infectious agent but do not show signs of illness, are local sources of infection for susceptible animals. Sufficient immunity within a population of animals is an important component of preventing high rates of disease. Programs targeting immunization of unvaccinated animals are critical to disease control.

 

8. Knowledge of immunology and vaccinology, including associated benefits and risks, and the pathobiology of infectious diseases, are necessary to implement an effective vaccination program. Consideration of exposure, susceptibility, potential severity of disease, efficacy and safety of vaccine, any potential public health concerns, and the owner's preferences are appropriate.

 

9. Only those veterinarians with valid veterinarian-client-patient relationships are in position to make recommendations customized to the needs of the individual patient(s) and owner/client.

 

10. Revaccination recommendations should be designed to maintain clinically relevant immunity while minimizing adverse event potential.

 

11. Additional information, including vaccine-specific, scientific data on minimum, average, and maximum duration of immunity is desired to craft optimal revaccination-frequency recommendations.

 

12. Vaccines, including polyvalent products, should be selected to include only those antigens appropriate for the specific risk needs of the patient, thereby eliminating unnecessary immune system stimulation and lowering potential risks of adverse events.

 

13. Multiple-dose vaccine vials must be carefully managed to:

… Minimize the potential for delivering inappropriate levels of antigen or adjuvant.

… Optimize the potential for maximum potency of the antigens present.

… And minimize the opportunity for contamination with extraneous microbes or chemicals.

 

14. Veterinarians should create a core vaccine program, intended for use in the majority of animals in their practice area. Core vaccines are those that protect from diseases that are widely distributed in the region, virulent and highly infectious, thereby posing a risk of severe disease. Core vaccines are efficacious and exhibit patient benefit-risk ratios high enough to warrant their use, and/or are of significant public health significance, or required by law.

 

15. Veterinarians should consider creating non-core vaccine programs, intended for a minority of animals in their practice area. Non-core vaccines are those that target diseases that are of limited risk in the region, and /or represent less severe threats to infected patients, and/or vaccine benefit-risk ratios are too low to warrant the use of these products in all circumstances, and/or scientific information is inadequate to evaluate these products. Veterinarians and owners/clients need to carefully consider the benefits and risks of using these vaccine products on an individual basis.

 

16. Information about the benefits and risks of vaccination are important in owners' decisions about individual vaccine selection and vaccination program choices.

 

17. USDA licensed products have had the manufacturer's claims about vaccine performance substantiated by a variety of testing methods. Careful evaluation of labels and other information is necessary to compare and contrast between the available products.

 

18. There is a critical need for more fully developed, scientifically based, and statistically valid evaluations of vaccine products to provide practitioners with a basis for developing vaccination programs that maximize benefits and minimize associated risks for patients under their care.

 

19. Current adverse-event reporting systems used need significant improvement in the capture, analysis, and reporting of adverse events. Practitioner commitment to adverse event reporting, and timely access for practitioners to current analysis of adverse event data, are essential to providing optimal patient care.

 

20. There is potential legal liability for all medical procedures including vaccination.

 

VACCINE LICENSING

 

Biological agents are regulated by the USDA, not the Food and Drug Administration, and thus are not subject to those regulations that address extra label use. Veterinarians can legally use vaccines in a discretionary manner.

 

USDA licensing at the full approval level provides a baseline standard for efficacy, safety, purity, and potency, but the clinical need (relevancy) or usefulness (applicability) of a product are not assured by the licensing process. The USDA must approve labels for biological products. However, current labels frequently contain revaccination interval recommendations based on historical precedence and regulation rather than scientific data, may fail to adequately inform practitioners about the optimal use of the product, and the testing methods may be inadequate to identify rare but relevant safety concerns.

 

Labels on licensed vaccines make different claims and should be carefully studied when evaluating products. Claims may, for example, declare the product (a) prevents infection, (b) prevents disease, or (c) results in a decreased number or a decreased intensity of clinical signs. Each of these claims represents a different level of performance outcome that might be important in selection of a specific vaccine.

 

USDA-approved products licensed under the conditional approval process have demonstrated a reasonable expectation of efficacy. Autogenuous vaccines have no demonstrated efficacy.

 

 

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One Companion Animal A Day

 

"Save a life and you save the world." Talmud

 

"One companion animal at a time" Next-To-Kin sm

 

Wondering what you can do to improve the lives of companion animals and their guardians? Try to inform one person a day about the dangers of over-vaccination.

 

It's very easy. No one is a stranger when they have a dog or cat.

 

For example, you have a water leak in the house. Ask the maintenance manager or plumber who comes to fix the leak if he has a dog or cat.

 

Ask them: Do you vaccinate annually? Do you realize that's not necessary? Do you know that one in every 10 dogs and cats may suffer potentially serious side effects from vaccinations?

 

People - strangers, who then are no longer strangers - love to talk and care about their companion animals.

 

So try to help one companion animal a day by talking to one guardian a day. It will have a real impact - right away.

 

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Be Informed About Vaccine

 

"We have to change our focus from yearly vaccination to that of a yearly physical."

-- Dr. Fred Scott, Professor of Virology and Director of the Cornell Feline Health Center in "Are We Vaccinating Too Much?" Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, 1995.

 

"Clients Should Be Informed About Vaccine Use. There are legal and professional reasons to adequately inform clients about the vaccines practitioners use in their patients. Clients should be informed about the relative benefits and risks of vaccine use. They also should understand that vaccination does not guarantee protection and they should be informed about the potential adverse effects of vaccines. In general, clients should receive sufficient information to enable a reasonable person to reach an informed decision regarding an animal's medical care."

-- “Vaccination Issues of Concern To Practitioners,” Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, April 1, 1999.

 

"The final decision concerning individual vaccines to be administered should be based on risk and benefit assessment by the client and the vet."

-- Small Animal Vaccination Protocol, Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Science.

 

Clearly, there are responsible voices within the veterinary profession calling upon practitioners to kick their annual-vaccination-shot economic habit and to properly inform guardians about the benefits and dangers of vaccine use. A glance at the dates of the above articles show how little vets have listened, despite the clarion character of the calls.

 

What should be done?

 

1. The veterinary associations should launch a public information campaign, advising all companion-animal owners of the three-year rabies vaccination option. Advertisements in local newspapers across the country as well as print and broadcasting public-service announcements are suggested at a minimum.

 

2. Vets should answer client-guardians’ questions about vaccinations and the vet’s vaccination policies – questions such as those listed in the questionnaire found elsewhere on this website.

 

3. The veterinary associations must make non-notification by vets of the three-year vaccination option subject to suspension and/or revocation of license. Investigations should be made of known situations by the vet societies and state vet boards in the light of day -- with no gag orders or secrecy - to determine a resolution of the situation and to impose sanctions and penalties where appropriate as a deterrent.

 

4. At vaccination time an Informed Consent Notification form would verify that the vet has discussed the issues of vaccination with the client-guardian. The Informed Consent form would be signed by the vet and include the guardian's initials, affirming that he or she has been informed of the following by the vet:

• The potential side effects and adverse reactions of the vaccine relative to the benefits.

• What are the vaccination options (three-year versus one-year) and the pros and cons of each.

• Which vaccines are medically necessary for the pet's health and which are not necessary based on the latest research.

The original copy of the Informed Consent Notification form would be kept by the owner/guardian and a copy would be kept by the veterinarian.

 

 

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What Do The Experts Say?

 

 

"The practice of annual (pet) vaccinations lacks scientific validity or verification. There is no immunological requirement for annual vaccinations. The practice of annual vaccinations should be considered of questionable efficacy."

-- Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy (The Textbook Bible for Veterinarians)

 

 

"There is strong and growing consensus among immunology and infectious disease experts that annual vaccination (of dogs and cats) is neither necessary nor advisable. The vast majority, if not all of the North American veterinarian schools, are currently recommending reduced frequency of vaccination."

-- "Does My Pet Need Annual Vaccinations", American Animal Hospital Association, 1999

 

"Our adoption of this routine vaccination program (three-year vaccination) is based on the lack of scientific evidence to support the current practice of annual vaccination and increasing documentation showing that over-vaccinating has been associated with harmful side effects. Of particular note in this regard has been the association of autoimmune hemolytic anemia with vaccination of dogs and vaccine-associated sarcomas in cats -- both of which are often fatal."

-- Colorado State University's Small Animal Vaccination Protocol

 

"To insure efficacy, manufacturers (of vaccines) for years have made vaccines 10 times more potent than what is needed to challenge the immune system."

-- "The Nature of Animal Healing", Martin Goldstein, DVM

 

· Vaccine-related cancer in cats: According to Colorado State University Professor Dennis Macy, "the incidence of this often fatal cancer (sarcoma-cancer development at the vaccine site) has been documented by several studies to be 1 to 3.2 per 10,000 cats receiving a rabies vaccine If all the cats in Denver (estimated to be 400,000) were to be vaccinated yearly for rabies, the unneeded additional vaccinations would result in an additional 26 to 84 vaccine cancer sites per year! I estimate 22,000 vaccine-associated tumors per year. Since surgery is usually unsuccessful, radiation treatment is necessary. Treating all these cats would cost $66 million per year."

-- "Are We Vaccinating Too Much," Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1995

 

The "Benefit" of Annual Vaccinations

 

"Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirements for annual revaccination. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary response) as a result of interference by existing antibody."

-- Professors Tom Phillips and Ron Schultz, "Canine and Feline Vaccines," Kirk's Current Veterinarian Therapy XI

 

"Dr. Mark Wood, representing the Animal Health Institute, a trade organization for vaccine manufacturers has indicated the arbitrary revaccination label on vaccines has no legal significance."

--Cite 24, Small Animal Vaccination Protocols, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University

 

"Vets and kennels are demanding that pets are vaccinated unnecessarily, and the owners are being fleeced. The veterinary profession and the vaccine manufacturers should be subject to adequate external monitoring."

-- Professor Richard Lacey, former member of the Ministry of Agriculture Veterinary Products Committee (VPC), United Kingdom

 

The Three-Year (Triennial) Vaccination and Its Impact on Public Health

 

Dr. Kevin Reily is quoted as saying, "It is clear from both controlled laboratory challenged studies and more than 20 years of field experience with the triennial (every three years vaccination) rabies programs, that the three year rabies vaccines are extremely effective."

 

Reily, a vet for (public health officer in charge of rabies control), the state of California, where the risk of rabies is much higher having both bat and skunk rabies and ten million dogs and cats at risk, has used the triennial vaccination program in dogs and cats for the last 20 years. No currently vaccinated dogs or cats have developed rabies during the two decades. In addition, that no animal received just two rabies vaccines in its lifetime, regardless of current rabies vaccine status, developed rabies in the state of California during the last 20 years!"

 

Source: "Denver's Rabies Laws - Take Another Look!", Professor Dennis Macy, DVM, MS, Professor, Internal Medicine/Oncology (Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences), Head, Treatment Section of AVMA Feline Vaccine-Associated Sarcoma Task Force.

 

"Even Rabies vaccine is probably good for more than 3 years, since it is a viral vaccine. The tests done by the vaccine manufacturers on the required 7 dogs were carried out only at three years post-vaccine. If they had tested dogs longer post-vaccine, rabies [vaccine] may be good for life."

--"Veterinarian Advice Line", Chistina Chambreau, DVM

 

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Heroes in Reviewing Over-vaccination

 

The case against over-vaccinating has been made since the 1970s by the pioneer in this area, W. Jean Dodds, DVM.

 

In the 1990s Professors Ron Schultz and Tom Phillips, Scripps Research Institute and University of Wisconsin, and Professor Dennis Macy, Colorado State University, added further to the body of research and information.

 

Martin Goldstein, DVM, author of The Nature of Animal Healing (Knopf) is also a useful source.

 

Robert Rogers, DVM of Spring, Texas has extensive first-hand knowledge and experience with the vaccine controversy as a practicing veterinarian, in vet associations, and with regulatory organizations.

 

Ms. Catherine O'Driscoll, author of the international book, What Vets Don't Tell About Vaccines (Applewood Publishing, Derbyshire, United Kingdom ) is an invaluable source.

 

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Questions to Ask Your Vet

By Jim Schwartz, Founder of Next-To-Kin, man of dog

 

1. Why are you suggesting annual rabies vaccinations?

 

2. What scientific evidence supports annual rabies vaccinations?

 

3. Does a Yorkshire Terrier get the same shot-the same dosage-as a Great Dane? Does one size fit all?

 

4. Is it true there is a three-year vaccination option?

 

5. If the 3-year option was available prior to vaccinating my companion animal and you did not inform me of this, how come?

 

6. Were you aware of the American Veterinary Medical Association's position that the companion- animal owner should be given the opportunity for informed consent relative to vaccination options (rabies, etc.)?

 

7. Is it true that the efficacy (life) of the rabies vaccination is 5-7 years?

 

8. What is the adverse-reaction impact of the rabies vaccination per 1,000 cats or dogs? Is it not true that adverse reactions are self- reported by the veterinarians? Might vets be economically disadvantaged by self-reporting actual numbers of adverse reactions to vaccinations, as such statistics might show unnecessary risks of annual vaccination shots?

 

9. Is it true that the vaccine manufacturers recommend that the vaccination should be given only to healthy animals?

 

10. Is it true that the cost of the rabies vaccine is 50 to 75 cents, at most, and that the cost to the companion- animal guardian for the shot is $15-$38, plus an additional $30-$35 for the office visit?

 

11. With just losing annual rabies vaccination of dogs and cats (not including distemper and parvo) and the accompanying shot-related office visits would your practice be profitable in the non-vaccination years?

 

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Ethical Considerations and Legal Concerns

 

Vet Economics or Animal Companions' Well-Being?

 

How many thousands and thousands of pets have died unnecessarily, had illnesses needlessly, and had their healthy longevity reduced because veterinarians knowingly failed to inform guardians of the three-year rabies option - and the risks and benefits of rabies vaccine?

 

"We should not allow politics and tradition or greed to enter the decision (on frequency of vaccination). Changing vaccination schedules doesn't have to mean less profit, but that you have more income from some clients and less from others. Veterinarians and the industry need to have guts to be honest with ourselves and assess the risk and not be trapped in tradition."

-- Dr. Dennis Macy in "Are We Vaccinating Too Much?" AVMA Journal, 1995

 

Be Informed About Vaccine

 

"We have to change our focus from yearly vaccination to that of a yearly physical."

-Dr. Fred Scott, Professor of Virology and Director of the Cornell Feline Health Center in "Are We Vaccinating Too Much?" Journal of American Veterinary Medicine, 1995.

 

"Clients Should Be Informed About Vaccine Use. There are legal and professional reasons to adequately inform clients about the vaccines practitioners use in their patients. Clients should be informed about the relative benefits and risks of vaccine use. They also should understand that vaccination does not guarantee protection and they should be informed about the potential adverse effects of vaccines. In general, clients should receive sufficient information to enable a reasonable person to reach an informed decision regarding an animal's medical care."

-"Vaccination Issues of Concern To Practitioners," Journal of American Veterinary Association, April 1, 1999.

 

"The final decision concerning individual vaccines to be administered should be based on risk and benefit assessment by the client and the vet."

-Small Animal Vaccination Protocol, Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Science.

 

Clearly, there are responsible voices within the veterinary profession calling upon practitioners to kick their annual-vaccination-shot economic habit and to properly inform guardians about the benefits and dangers of vaccine use. A glance at the dates of the above articles show how little vets have listened, despite the clarion character of the calls.

 

What should be done?

 

1. The veterinary associations should launch a public information campaign, advising all companion-animal owners of the three-year rabies vaccination option. Advertisements in local newspapers across the country as well as print and broadcasting public-service announcements are suggested at a minimum.

 

2. Vets should answer client-guardians' questions about vaccinations and the vet's vaccination policies - questions such as those listed in the questionnaire found elsewhere on this website.

 

3. The veterinary associations must make non-notification by vets of the three-year vaccination option subject to suspension and/or revocation of license. Investigations should be made of known situations by the vet societies and state vet boards in the light of day -- with no gag orders or secrecy to determine a resolution of the situation and to impose sanctions and penalties where appropriate as a deterrent.

 

4. At vaccination time an Informed Consent Notification form would verify that the vet has discussed the issues of vaccination with the client-guardian. The Informed Consent form would be signed by the vet and include the guardian's initials, affirming that he or she has been informed of the following by the vet:

… The potential side effects and adverse reactions of the vaccine relative to the benefits.

… What are the vaccination options (three-year versus one-year) and the pros and cons of each.

… Which vaccines are medically necessary for the pet's health and which are not necessary based on the latest research.

The original copy of the Informed Consent Notification form would be kept by the owner/guardian and a copy would be kept by the veterinarian.

 

 

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Moolah's Story: What happened to the Standard of Excellence?

By Jim Schwartz, Founder of Next-To-Kin, man of dog

 

My first generation of companion animals were all named after great professional wrestlers. There was my silver Miniature Poodle, Buddy; named after Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers, the first dual National Wrestling Alliance/World Wide Wrestling Federation champion. There was Nicki, a Black Lab-Shepherd female who was named after Nick Bockwinkle, the American Wrestling Association champion; and there was Rickie, a female marked Maltese - all nine pounds of her - who was named after Ric Flair, the 16-time NWA/WWF champion.

 

Then there was my black Standard Poodle, Moolah, the Standard of Excellence. Moolah was named after Lillian Ellison, who wrestled as the Fabulous Moolah. Lillian is probably the greatest female wrestling champion known to date. For 27 years, she was the champ and she trained all the subsequent female wrestlers for many years. I picked Moolah from a litter of 11 puppies. She was such a fabulous dog that I named her "The Fabulous Moolah - The Standard of Excellence."

 

On October 29, 1999, I brought Moolah in for her annual rabies shot. At that time, I asked the vet, "Can we not do the three-year rabies vaccine - like we are doing the three-year parvo and distemper?"

 

"No," I was told. "Arapahoe County [Colorado] still requires the annual rabies vaccination."

 

Now Moolah, at the time, was not in the best of health to begin with. Secondly, she was 11 years of age. I would later learn that both of these are critical concerns. I would later learn that the rabies-vaccine label typically states "only administer to healthy dogs." I would later learn that the research is pretty overwhelming that older dogs do not need the vaccination - especially if they are kept in a confined area and out of the woods.

 

However, at that time, I was not aware of those points. Nor was I aware that Colorado had passed, in January of 1999, a bill allowing the three-year rabies vaccination - or that it had been enacted into law in July of 1999, four months prior to Moolah's shot.

 

Moolah developed autoimmune illness.

 

Every guardian knows his or her dog. Moolah wasn't herself. Normally upon my calling, she would be up instantly. Now she wasn't. Moolah always ate very well. (Once she got into my Werther's Original gold-wrapped butterscotch candies, devouring them. When I looked for them and accused her, she gave me a "who me?" look even as the wrappers dangled like tinsel from her ears). Now she wasn't eating well, either.

 

Moolah was always at my side. Now, she was in the cool hallway - panting and panting and panting. Her gums became pale. Her blood platelet counts dropped like a rock; Oxyglobin was used, special medication requiring me to wear gloves. Her platelets continued to drop. Her dosages of the steroid prednisone were increased.

 

She still wasn't eating -- not even Good Times hamburgers with cheese.

 

I was advised to leave her at the vet's for a 24-hour watch. It went on for days; I visited her several times daily. The last day she looked at me as if to say, "Take me home to die." I didn't. I can still see her face as she went back into the cage.

 

Then came the call: "You ought to come down."

 

Five-six-seven thousand dollars later - all to no avail - she could hardly get up; she could hardly breathe. Hearing my voice when I entered, for the first and last time that day, she raised her head.

 

It was time. I had promised my late-friend Fred Burke to do what he had done: "I bring them into my life," he said, "I will be the one that takes them out."

 

I sang to Moolah and held her. The vet sedated her. I kept my promise to Fred Burke.

 

Sadly, The Fabulous Moolah's case is not isolated. It unfortunately happens every day.

 

The vet that I liked left the clinic that I was not happy with to join a new clinic. So, this is early in the year 2000, February or March. It was time for shots for Ellie-or to look into shots for Ellie-my black, female Standard Poodle, and I asked the vet about the annual rabies vaccination.

 

"No, we can do a three-year vaccination," she said.

 

I asked, "Did that just occur?"

 

The doctor replied, "No. I mean, we've had it since 1999."

 

Well, that was interesting to me. So, I called the vet clinic that had given Moolah her shot, talked with the manager, and asked, "Do you still do the annual vaccination?"

 

She replied, "Yes."

 

I asked, "Is it still required by Arapahoe County?"

 

She said, "Yes, Arapahoe County requires it."

 

I was convinced that Arapahoe County was at fault. Why would I think otherwise? Why would the vets mislead me? So I inquired at Arapahoe County Animal Control and eventually learned that they were not at fault. As a matter of fact, they had notified everyone of the change in the rabies vaccination law. Additionally, I learned that the vaccination period was not set by county ordinance but by state law.

 

Subsequently, I learned of a study in Europe indicating that 7 to 12 percent of all vaccinated companion animals experience adverse reactions within the first 45 days, including death and autoimmune illness. The 1-in-10,000 and 1-in-100,000 adverse reaction statistics, thrown around by some veterinarians, have not been validated scientifically and are based on reactions reported by veterinarians themselves. That's sort of like Dracula guarding the blood bank. There is no real good data on these adverse reactions that I am aware of, other than that European study.

 

Based upon all of this information a list of questions was developed and submitted to the veterinary firm (part of a national chain) that had given Moolah the fatal shot. They wouldn't respond to the questions, but they sent the questionnaire on to the veterinary group's Southwest Regional medical director, Dr. Rocky McKelvey. He wrote back that the issue of annual vaccinations is a controversial subject, that it's based on local regulation, and that this national chain of more than 100 free-standing animal hospitals has chosen to practice "conservative medicine" and recommend annual rabies vaccination.

 

Then on September 1, 2001, the American Veterinary Medical Association issued "Principles of Vaccination" that state that the practice of annual rabies vaccination is based on historical precedent and government regulation not scientific data. And that's the basis for the practice of conservative medicine?

 

This brings up the real question: Who can you trust? Moolah's rabies shot did not come from a rogue vet or as a random act. The practice of annual vaccinations by this large group of freestanding vet hospitals continued in 2001, according to Dr. Rocky McKelvey. Moolah has passed on and there is no bringing her back. I realize this. Why do I tell Moolah's story? Because what happened to Moolah need not, and should not, happen to another dog. Unfortunately, since December 28, 1999, annual shots bearing potentially deadly side effects have been issued to thousands of dogs and cats knowingly, willingly, systemically by economically motivated "professionals."

 

Who can you trust? Guardians must ask about alternatives to annual rabies vaccinations because, obviously, the vets are not informing them. Not when the cost of the rabies vaccine to the vets is 61 cents per shot and they sell it to guardians for from $15 to $38 along with a $35 office exam. Are vets in professional practices or are they in transaction-based practices - no different than commissioned salespersons? There are many, many, many veterinary practices that thrive and have done wonderfully - as illustrated in their own vet magazines - without being dependent upon transaction-based shots.

 

Why has this annual-rabies-shot practice gone on for 20-plus years? I can connect the dots only one way, and it draws a picture of economics.

 

I was financial planner of the year in 1985. I founded the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the largest fee-only organization. I've written a book on financial planning that's gone into two editions. It's been critically acclaimed and 10 years later has been called one of the few classics in the business. I pioneered no-load insurance in this country and authored or have been mentioned in hundreds of different articles during my time. Had I not had this background, I doubt that I would have put two and two together.

 

Maybe this is not how the dots are connected. But in light of the vaccination protocols of all of the major vet schools, in light of the American Animal Hospital Association saying three-year vaccinations, in light of the law changes, any vet - any vet - who continues to practice a vaccination protocol of annual rabies shots, without providing guardians with the opportunity for informed consent, in my opinion, is guilty of malpractice and silent, deadly, animal cruelty.

 

I can't bring the Fabulous Moolah back. But I can carry on her legacy by applying her Standard of Excellence to the veterinary profession and, hopefully, save millions of dogs and cats from death and suffering, and save their guardians from the suffering and the cost.

 

And thus, we established Next-To-Kin, for The Fabulous Moolah - The Standard of Excellence, and for your fabulous canine companions.

 

 

 

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DISCLAIMER:    All information, data, and material contained, presented, or provided here is for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as reflecting the knowledge or opinions of the publisher, and is not to be construed or intended as providing medical or legal advice.  The decision whether or not to vaccinate is an important and complex issue and should be made by you, and you alone, in consultation with your health care provider.