A “standard” vaccination program for all horses does not exist. Each individual situation requires evaluation based on the following criteria:
Risk of disease (anticipated exposure, environmental factors, geographic factors, age, breed, use, and sex of the horse)
Consequences of the disease (morbidity/mortality, zoonotic potential)
Anticipated effectiveness of the selected product(s)
Potential for adverse reactions to a vaccine(s)
Cost of immunization (time, labor and vaccine costs) vs. potential cost of disease (time out of competition; impact of movement restrictions imposed in order to control an outbreak of contagious disease; labor and medication if, or when, horses develop clinical disease and require treatment, or loss of life.)
Note: The use of antibody titers or other immunological measurements to determine if booster vaccination is warranted is not currently practiced in the horse as standardized tests and protective levels of immunity have not been defined for most diseases. A correlation between antibody levels and protective immunity under field conditions has not yet been identified.
Clients should have realistic expectations and understand that:
Vaccination alone, in the absence of good management practices directed at infection control, is not sufficient to prevent infectious disease.
Vaccination serves to minimize the risks of infection but cannot prevent disease in all circumstances.
A properly administered, licensed product should not be assumed to provide complete protection during any given field epidemic.
Protection is not immediately afforded the patient after administration of a vaccine that is designed to induce active immunity. In most instances, a priming series of multiple doses of a vaccine must be administered initially for that vaccine to induce protective active immunity.
The primary series of vaccines and booster doses should be appropriately administered prior to likely exposure.
Each horse in a population is not protected to an equal degree nor for an equal duration following vaccination.
All horses in a herd should be vaccinated at intervals based on the professional opinion of the attending veterinarian
Although rare, there is potential for adverse reactions despite appropriate handling and administration of vaccines.
(Ideally, the same schedule is followed for all horses in a population, thus simplifying record keeping, minimizing replication and transmission of infectious agents in a herd and indirectly protecting those horses in the herd that responded poorly to vaccination, thereby optimizing herd-immunity.)
*Based on AAEP Guidelines
The AVMA defines core vaccinations as those “that protect from diseases that are endemic to a region, those with potential public health significance, required by law, virulent/highly infectious, and/or those posing a risk of severe disease. Core vaccines have clearly demonstrated efficacy and safety, and thus exhibit a high enough level of patient benefit and low enough level of risk to justify their use in the majority of patients.”
The following equine vaccines meet these criteria and are identified as ‘core’ in these guidelines.
*Potomac Horse Fever (PHF) is endemic to our area of Virginia and is recommended to be vaccinated for twice a year.
**Coggins and Dental Floats are recommended once a year, either spring or fall.
Flu/Rhino and PHF are considered risk based vaccines that are given based on a specific horse or farms likelihood of getting the disease. We highly recommend both vaccines in this area, and for horses that have frequent contact with new horses or travel often. More information can be obtained about risk based vaccines HERE.
Keswick Equine Clinic also requires horses and donkeys to be vaccinated for Rabies prior to receiving a dental exam or float. This is a cheap and highly effective vaccine that is done once a year. We highly recommend your equine partner be vaccinated for Rabies as is a public health concern.
Some people choose to vaccinate their horses for more than one risk-based disease. The other common risk-based vaccines we are prepared to vaccinate for are as follows: