Having explained the value of vaccinating to prevent specific ailments, we will now discuss the protocols associated with the inoculation of our pets.
Let me, however, make some important comments pertaining to the acquisition, the administering, and the efficiency of the vaccines:
1. The laws of Guyana do not permit Veterinary Technicians/Animal Health Assistants to perform vaccinations, and/or, for that matter, to administer any injection – unless the treatment is being carried out under veterinary supervision. Of course, the immediate question arises: What is the definition of the word “supervision”? The law may not be precise on this issue. Also, with widely accessible video conferencing technology, the vet may remotely be able to oversee (supervise) the injection preparation and delivery. Would this be permissible? The current Veterinary Board of Guyana (VBG) will have to tackle this conundrum with some seriousness.
2. Where are these “Vet Techs” getting vaccines from? Who is selling them the vaccines? Have the vaccines been stored correctly? (They must be stored at 2°C – 7°C (35°F – 45°F). They must not be frozen). Have the “Vet Techs” the capability to store the vaccines the way they should be stored?
3. Should there be a reaction to the injection, can the “Vet Tech” introduce medication to counteract the allergic reaction? Or, worse, can the “Vet Tech” introduce appropriate medication if the patient goes into an anaphylactic shock immediately after the delivery of the vaccination?
4. Very often, pet caregivers mix up the words “injection” and “vaccination”. Whereas a vaccination is very specific relative to a specific disease, and is given to the animal by injection, an injection is most often not a vaccination. The veterinarian can administer several injections (to an ailing animal), none of which is a vaccination.
NB: One may find in textbooks and in search engines that vaccinations can be administered by the inhalation route. No vet that I know uses this methodology, not lastly because it is relatively difficult to administer; nor are such vaccines easily available.
5. Many Vet Techs are actually issuing “Vaccination Certificates”, quite illegally, of course. I have in my possession several such illegal documents. Some Vet Techs are actually touting themselves as “Veterinary Consultants” on their “certificates”. I have shared these exemplars of fake “Vaccination Certificates” with the Veterinary Board of Guyana.
6. Whenever a Vaccination Certificate (VC) is issued, the caregiver must ensure that all the labels associated with that particular set of ailments (which have been vaccinated against) are stuck on to the VC, so that the owner/ caregiver knows exactly what the animal has been vaccinated against.
I have noticed, for example, that the legend on the VC may have one ticked-off square for Leptospira. However, that is not accurate. There are scores (hundreds?) of serovars associated with Leptospirosis, and they do not cross-immunize. For example, if the dog is vaccinated only against Leptospira Pomona, the dog will not be protected against Leptospira Canicola.
Luckily, the vaccine manufacturers have prepared a vaccine that offers defence against the four types of Leptospira germs which are most prevalent in this part of the world.
7. Please note that the currently most common vaccines available (not including Rabies) offer prevention against Canine Coronavirus, Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Adenovirus, Canine Parainfluenza, and four types of the most prevalent Leptospira germs (viz: Grippotyphosa, Canicola, Icterohaemorrhagiae and Pomona). These are all diseases which can be lethal to dogs. I should also mention that there are vaccines in Brazil that contain as many as 11 protective agents. Are we sure that these vaccines are stored correctly all the way overland between BOA VISTA/ BON FIM and Georgetown?
Please note that the one manufacturer that offers Canine coronavirus as part of the Polyvalent Vaccine only includes two types of Lepto; namely: L.Canicola and L.Icterchaemorragiae. The animal receiving this vaccine will not be protected against L.Pomona and L.Grippotyphosa.
The cat vaccines available protect cats against Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calici Virus, and Chlamydia Psittaci.
8. If the mother dog or cat dies during delivery or soon thereafter, the pups/kittens would not have been able to receive that most important “first milk” (colostrum). This means that those neonates (newborns) are especially fragile, and would need extra special care. Such care includes different vaccination schedules than the ones usually used. Under such circumstances, the caregiver and the Vet would together work out the best relevant schedule.
9. Do not vaccinate mother dogs/cats during pregnancy!! Females who have not been vaccinated within a year after the Primary Course (see Vaccination schedule in next week’s “PET CARE” column) has been completed must be vaccinated before being mated.
10. Vaccines are biological products, and can produce (hyper) sensitivity reactions. Inform your vet immediately if the vaccinated animal reacts abnormally (swollen face intense scratching of face and body, sneezing and coughing, etc).
11. An ailing animal should never be vaccinated. Pups and kittens must preferably be dewormed before the introduction of the vaccine.