“One and Done” Approach to Rabies Vaccination is Misguided and Dangerous

Recently, I wrote about claims made by a veterinary homeopath that booster vaccination was unnecessary because single, initial vaccination provides lifelong immunity for our pets. There is ample evidence that this is frequently untrue, but today I ran across an article that illustrates quite nicely that this claim is false.

Ippei Watanabe, Kentaro Yamada, Akira Aso, Okio Suda, Takashi Matsumoto, Takaaki Yahiro, Kamruddin Ahmed, and Akira Nishizono. Relationship between Virus Neutralizing Antibody Levels and the Number of Rabies Vaccinations: a Prospective Study of Dogs in Japan. Jpn. J. Infect. Dis., 66, 17-21, 2013

This study involved sampling blood from 756 dogs and evaluating the rabies antibody levels. This antibody level, and the proportion of dogs with enough antibody to be protected from rabies, was then compared to the number of rabies vaccinations the dogs had received, the age and sex of the dog, the time since the last rabies vaccine, and other factors. The results illustrate the need for a rational, evidence-based approach to determining the number and frequency of vaccinations.

The authors found that puppies who had never been vaccinated for rabies almost never had protective antibody levels despite receiving some antibodies through nursing.

we found that only 1 unvaccinated dog exhibited protective VNA levels whereas many unvaccinated dogs exhibited inadequate VNA levels…we set the VNA level of 0.25 IU/ml as the cutoff value…Of the 72 unvaccinated puppies aged 90 days or less, 11 samples (15.3z) exhibited VNA levels of Æ0.25 IU/ml. In contrast, only 1 of the 35 unvaccinated puppies aged over 90 days (2.9z) exhibited VNA levels of Æ0.25 IU/ml.

Of the dogs vaccinated only once, between 33% and 77% exhibited protective antibody levels at various time points during the 13 months after vaccination. Of the five time points sampled, only at one (13 months) did the proportion of protected dogs reach a level above the 70% believed to be necessary to prevent rabies from becoming established in the population at large. When the dogs who are not vaccinated are considered, it is unlikely that 70% of the population will ever be protected if only one rabies vaccine is given to vaccinated dogs.

Of the dogs vaccinated more than once, the proportion protected ranged from 79% to 100%. However, of the 7 time points sampled, the proportion of dogs protected was greater than 97% at all but one (25 months after vaccination). This indicates that giving at least two vaccinations to each dog ensures that nearly all dogs will be protected for at least two years. Since the rabies vaccine has elsewhere been demonstrated to protect the vast majority of dogs for at least three years, this is a reasonable minimum frequency for vaccination. However, better data is needed to determine how often we should be recommending revaccination since there is some evidence adequate population protection may last quite a bit longer than three years.

Interestingly, there did not appear to be any difference in the proportion of the population with protective antibodies between dogs receiving two vaccinations and dogs receiving more than two, so this suggests that two vaccines per dog may be sufficient to provide herd immunity. However, the specific details of how long protection lasts in what percentage of dogs aren’t clearly known, and this information is needed to make reliable decisions about limiting rabies vaccination to two vaccines only.

Because a high antibody titer is indicative of protection from disease for rabies (which is not true for all other diseases), individual dogs could have their titers measured to confirm they are protected and don’t require repeat vaccination. However, a low titer does not necessarily mean the dog is susceptible to the disease, so it isn’t necessarily a good indication of when a vaccine is needed. And, of course, the majority of the long-term health risks attributed to vaccination by vaccine opponents like Dr. Falconer have not actually been shown to be cause by vaccines, so choosing not to vaccinate based on these purported risks is not a rational, evidence-based decision.

This study, of course, does not provide all the answers about how often and when to vaccinate even for rabies, much less all the answers about all vaccines. It illustrates, however, both the kind of information that has to be accumulated to make rational decisions about vaccination and the nonsense of Dr. Falconer’s claims that one vaccine can be assumed to provide lifelong immunity for most dogs. As always, reality is complex and nuanced, with inevitable uncertainty, but we still make better decisions for our dogs if we accept this and try to work with the evidence we have rather than making simplistic and mistaken generalizations about medical procedures like vaccination.



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29 Responses to “One and Done” Approach to Rabies Vaccination is Misguided and Dangerous

  1. Art says:

    Those who promote more than one rabies vaccine is needed to protect will point to the studies that show most vaccinated dogs who got rabies were only vaccinated one time before six month of age. But when you ask them if two vaccines are needed why not vaccinate with the second “booster” a month after the first instead of a year later some agree others do not.
    Veterinarians do misrepresent vaccinations. This is a widespread problem. It has gone on since about 1993 when the first studies started to come out. The American Veterinary Medical Association, The American Animal Hospital Association and the Association of Feline Practitioners as well as all 27 Vet Schools in the US have all changed their vaccine recommendations, recommending less vaccines. Few Veterinarians follow the recommendations.

    It is my hope 20/20 will do a follow up story on this issue in more detail.

    All States have a Deceptive Trade Practice Act which prohibits misrepresentation of the benefit of a product.


    Most States and counties require rabies vaccinations


    Many Vets in these localities falsely tell their clients that every year is better. After the second rabies vaccine, annual rabies vaccines have no effect. Antibodies from the previous rabies vaccine will block the response to subsequent vaccines. (Hogen Esch) “There is no epidemiologic or laboratory evidence to support the annual or bi annual administration of rabies vaccine for dogs.” (Compendium on Rabies, JAVMA) Challenge studies have proven rabies vaccines are good for a least 5 years, probably life ( Aubert). When a client is instructed to get annual rabies vaccines for dogs it is a misrepresentation of the benefit of the vaccine. “The client is paying for something with no effect except the risk of an adverse reaction.”

    ( JAVMA, Aug 15, 1995)

    Vaccine Associated Sarcomas

    Cats are getting cancer form adjuvanted vaccines. 22,000 cats per year die from vaccine associated sarcomas (Macey)The pathogenesis of Vaccine Associated Sarcomas by adjuvanted vaccine has been clearly delineated. Non adjuvanted vaccines are clearly safer for cats. Only 10% of Vets use non adjuvanted vaccines. Vaccine manufactures sponsor CE to cloud the issue and push adjuvanted vaccines as well as unnecessary vaccines. Annual rabies for cats with a non adjuvanted vaccine is justifiable as the only non adjuvanted vaccine for rabies is a one year vaccine.

    The three year vaccine protocol

    It was never the intention of AAHA or the AFP to create a three year vaccination protocol. They state “no more often than every three years” and this was a political compromise.

    Distemper and parvo vaccines

    Distemper and parvo vaccines for dogs given after 4 months of age are good for life. We have challenge studies going out 7 years. Repeat vaccines have no effect. ( Schultz) Annual distemper and annual or bi annual parvo vaccines are a misrepresentation of the risk and benefit.

    Corona Virus

    There is no scientific evidence to show corona virus causes disease in dogs over 8 weeks of age. ( Ford, Wolf) To persuade a client to vaccinate an adult dog for corona is a misrepresentation of the risk and benefit.

    Lyme disease
    Lyme disease is only found in the 9 New England States & New York, plus Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. To persuade a client to vaccinate for Lyme in a state with no Lyme disease is a misrepresentation.

    Feline Aids vaccine

    Scientific evidence does not support the recommendation for FIV vaccine.

    Scare tactics and exaggerations
    There was the virulent calicivirus scare and the K9 Flu being blown out of proportion in areas it never hit. Both are examples of exaggerating the incidence of a disease just to sell more vaccinations.

    The AAHA, the AFP and the AVMA COBTA have made a decent effort to point Vets in the right direction. I highly commend the efforts of Dr Wolf, Dr Ford and Dr Schultz to educate Veterinarians on the latest research and proper use of vaccines. Many Veterinarians (75% in Texas) have not listened and have refused to update their protocols.

    To misrepresent the need for or the benefit of a medical procedure is a Deceptive Trade Practice. Veterinarians should get CE on vaccinations and not CE by a rep of a vaccine manufacturer. All Veterinarians need to hear this and the public has a right to know.

  2. Art says:

    Epidemiologic Factors, Clinical Findings, And Vaccination Status Of Rabies In Cats And Dogs In The United States In 1988. National Study Group On Rabies.

    Abstract: Despite the availability of rabies vaccination through private veterinarians and govemment-sponsored rabies control programs, rabies was reported in an average of 338 cats and dogs per year from 1980 through 1987 in the United States. Information was collected on 90% of the 183 cats and 97% of the 119 dogs that were reported to have rabies in the continental United States in 1988. The median age of rabid cats and dogs was 1 year, and 81% were from rural areas. Compared with rabid cats, rabid dogs were more likely to have been male (66 vs 42%, odds ratio = 2.6), to have been kept as pets (84 vs 43%, odds ratio = 6., and to have had reported contact with wildlife before onset of illness (3 8 vs 14%, odds ratio @ 3.. Rabid cats accounted for a greater proportion of human rabies postexposure prophylaxis, bites to people, and exposures to other animals than did rabid dogs. Although the clinical signs of rabies varied, rabid cats were more likely than dogs to have had aggressive behavior (55 vs 31%, odds ratio = 2.. In contrast, rabid dogs were more likely than cats to have had an illness consistent with a paralytic process. The median period between onset of illness and death was 3 days (range, less than 1 to 10) in rabid cats and dogs that were allowed to die of rabies. Vaccine failures were documented in 3 (1%) rabid animals (2 cats and I dog). All animals had received only a single dose of vaccine in their lifetime and were vaccinated when they were between 3 and 6 months old.

  3. skeptvet says:

    I have yet to find a satisfcatory answer to the question of why a single rabies vaccine is considered sufficient whereas a two-dose protocol is standard for other killed vaccines. According to the AAHA guidelines:

    “Rabies vaccine antigen is highly immunogenic. Throughout the US and Canada, a single dose, administered at 12 wk of age, is considered to
    induce protective immunity. It should be noted that the onset of immunity after administration of the initial rabies vaccine may be
    defined by applicable legal requirements.”

    This would seem to contradict the results of this study. When I checked on VIN, the general response to the question, “Why don’t we give two initial rabies vaccines?” was that licensing trials for the vaccines had shown sufficient immunity from only a single vaccination. However, I don’t believe this data is readily available publically, so I can’t evaluate it directly or compare it to the results of this study.

  4. skeptvet says:

    Where does the data come from on the protocols most vets use for vaccination? I don’t know anyone in my area who vaccinates more often than every 3 years after the 1-year booster, yet people are always complaining about vets still giving annual vaccines. Is this a regional difference? Do we actually know what most vets are doing?

  5. Art says:

    I have yet to find a satisfcatory answer to the question of why a single rabies vaccine is considered sufficient whereas a two-dose protocol is standard for other killed vaccines. According to the AAHA guidelines:>>
    It is not sufficient if your goal is to get the puppy or kitten fully immunized. Giving the second vaccine a year from the first rather than a month after the first vaccine is economically not medically conceived so vets can start dogs and cats on annual vaccine programs and governments can collect annual tag fees.

  6. skeptvet says:

    Sorry, I don’t buy that. If a vaccine for a disease with such huge human health implications as rabies is licensed for a single initial dose, I think it likely that there is pretty good evidence it is effective as a signle dose. Of course, I don’t particularly trust the drug companies but their economic interests would be served by requiring a two-dose protocal AND annual boosters, so it doesn’t make sense that they obtained licenses for single initial dose and three year boosters if there isn’t good evidence these work. The folks who control the laws are far more interested in preventing human rabies and far more likely to be influenced by big drug companies than they are to be influenced by greedy veterianrians into approving a vaccine mandate that doesn’t protect against rabies but makes more money for vets. It just doesn’t seem plausible to me.

  7. Art says:

    Of course, I don’t particularly trust the drug companies but their economic interests would be served by requiring a two-dose protocal AND annual boosters, >>>

    But if we had a two dose protocol where would the studies,like the one I posted,find vaccinated dogs getting rabies to justify giving more vaccines? 🙂 I got vaccinated for rabies in vet school then boostered soon after and almost 50 years later nothing on the label of the human rabies vaccine says I need to get a booster or titer. If you handle live rabies virus or wildlife they want you to get titers but for the average general practioner like me once fully immunized for rabies, “boosters” and titers are off label.

  8. v.t. says:


    You said: Scare tactics and exaggerations
    There was the virulent calicivirus scare and the K9 Flu being blown out of proportion in areas it never hit. Both are examples of exaggerating the incidence of a disease just to sell more vaccinations.

    What are you referring to regarding the “virulent calicivirus scare”? Are you saying it didn’t exist or was blown out of proportion? There’s an article in DVM news (I think, could be another magazine) where the veterinarian wrote about her experience and it was not pretty, not at all. It affected her and her staff and many clients’ cats, she had to shut down her clinic for some time to quarantine. There’s been other articles, although it seems on rare occasions the virulent form occurs, such as in clinic settings involving a small number of cats. The point is, when it does occur, it is horrible. When it happens in a clinic, cattery, boarding situation, animal shelter, need I say more?

    Btw, we know that vaccines are not the only agents theorized to cause VAS. There may be a higher risk with type and location site of the vaccine but we now know that other injections can cause the same effect.

    Only 10% of Vets use non adjuvanted vaccines.

    How do you know this?

    If we cease focusing on the importance of vaccines (plus additional research necessary to determine length of immunity across the board if that can even be done at all – and improving compliance), then we become complacent, and that has already happened. Largely from the anti-vax fear and scare-mongering crowd. I’m not saying we should be overvaccinating, I’m saying there has to be evidence we are causing more harm than good. In humans, it’s pretty clear that the anti-vax crowd should be held largely responsible for the redux in a few childhood diseases that are preventable through vaccination (and we have the evidence to argue for vaccination). I see much the same in the pet owner world of anti-vax pet owners.

    As for geographical areas, does it matter? Vets are following vaccination guidelines established by AAHA, AAFP etc, they make vaccination decisions based on the individual patient, and various other indicators that are beneficial to the pet, not the industry.

    Annual tag fees: You say that as if it’s a bad thing. Such fees also support animal shelters and staff, etc. Are you against that?

  9. Aleja says:

    Dr. Schultz is the leading canine vaccine researcher in the world. He has done more research on canine parvo vaccines than anyone else, and in fact on all canine viral gastroenteritis and vaccines for those viruses. He is the Chair of the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, and was the editor of the text book “Advances in Veterinary Medicine: Veterinary Vaccines and Diagnostics.”
    The gist of current thought is this:

    The reason we usually repeat vaccinations for parvo and distemper is not because we need vaccines more than once to form immunity. They are repeated for two basic reasons only: Habit, and to catch those few individuals who for some reason don’t respond to the first vaccination. Most people, including some vets, don’t seem to be aware of this, and have the belief that there is some number of shots that must be given to create immunity. A single immunizing dose of a modified live virus vaccine… in other words, one vaccine that WORKS… will form long term, probably lifetime, immunity to parvo and distemper.

    We don’t need to keep repeating the vaccines to know if they worked, either. Although titers as a measure of ONGOING immunity aren’t all that useful, as a measure of whether or not an animal formed immunity from a recent vaccination, they are extremely, highly reliable. (“Vaccines and Vaccinations: Issue for the 21st Century”, Richard B. Ford and Ronald D. Schultz. Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XIII, 2000.) Since it takes 7-10 days for the immunity to form, if you test a titer 10 days after a parvo and/or distemper vaccine, you will KNOW if the puppy had an immunizing response. You don’t need to guess. (Assuming the pup is old enough not to still have maternal antibodies.)

    As to titers: A zero titer doesn’t mean a previously vaccinated adult dog is no longer immune. That is because titers measure circulating antibody, and dogs (and humans!) don’t need circulating antibody to be immune to something. Immunity comes from “memory cells,” which we have no way to measure. It is the memory cells that tell the body to form the antibodies when a previously encountered virus re-infects the body. (Science 1999;286:1377-1381, 1381-1383. “Immune system’s memory does not need reminders.”) If the animal recently encountered the virus, their level of antibody might be quite high, but that doesn’t mean they are more immune than an animal with a zero titer.

    One of the most interesting things I have learned is that evidence is now showing that repeating vaccinations doesn’t “boost” immunity at all. All our habits of making sure pregnant bitches are recently vaccinated so they will have lots of immunity to pass on, worrying about “fading” immunity in adult dogs, or whatever our concerns, are not based on scientific reality. Re-vaccinating an already-immune animal has little or no benefit; the previous immunity will act like maternal antibody and inactivate the vaccine, and immunity is not “boosted” at all. So you have all the risks of the vaccination, and no benefit. (Schultz, R.D. “Current and Future Canine and Feline Vaccination Programs.” Vet Med 3: No. 3, 233-254, 1998.)

    Here are some other notes and citations:

    From Kirk’s Current Therapy XIII, published in 2000: “Vaccines and Vaccinations: Issue for the 21st Century”, Richard B. Ford and Ronald D. Schultz.
    Annual Vacinations

    Companion animal vaccination guidelines are currently undergoing critical scrutiny by representatives from private practice, industry, and academia. Despite widespread recommendations for annual revaccination, information available today suggests that current vaccination practices in North America do not neccessarily correspond with the body of knowledge pertaining to duration of immunity from licensed vaccines. As a direct result, companion animal practitioners should expect significant changes in the current standard of practice pertaining to the administration of vaccines to dogs and cats.

    Among the most significant changes anticipated in the future will be the recommendation to discontinue routine administration of annual booster vacinations to adult dogs (distemper virus and parvovirus) and cats (panleukopenia, feline herpesvirus 1, and feline calicivirus). The incidence of canine distemper, canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus, and feline panleukopenia among vaccinated adults (>1 year of age) is virtually zero. The correlation among vaccination, the development of a “positive” antibody response, and protection from exposure to virulent virus is excellent. Furthermore, protection from exposure derived from immunization is sustained for periods as long as 5 or 6 years or more.

    These notes were taken by Betty Lewis, AHT, from a seminar she attended given by Dr. Schultz in August 2001.
    Core Vaccines are distemper, adenovirus, parvo and rabies. He says all dogs must have these.

    His protocol is to give a single vaccine (he recommends the 5-way with the lepto left out) at 12-14 weeks of age. Wait two weeks and run parvo and distemper titers. If the dog has an adequate titer measure at Cornell as 1:100 or higher, there is no need to repeat either the vaccination or the titer for the life of the dog. Rabies is given separately and has to be re-vaccinated by state law.

    **Giving multiple vaccinations does not boost immunity, and, in some cases may erode it.

    Even though he recommends that the titer level be 1:100, he does not recommend re-vaccination unless there’s a really low titer. He says it probably won’t improve immunity, though it may make you feel better.

    Principles of basic vaccine protocol include having breeders give vaccinations at home so puppies don’t go to the vet’s office (sources of infection).

    The rabies vaccine is the most reacto-genic, he said, so best to give it separately. Benedryl can be given prior to a rabies vaccine. It will “dampen” the reactive effect of the adjuvants, but won’t interfere with the immune response.

    Giardia vaccine is not recommended and a side effect is granulomas at the site.

    Immunologic imprinting

    This refers to the fact that the immune system should be vaccinated only when it is ready and at its optimum. If you vaccinate an immature immune system or one not capable of responding fully for any reason, and you get only a partial response, re-vaccinating will never give a better response.

    There has not been a recorded case of canine infectious hepatitis in the US in the last 20 years .(CAV-2)

    “Of course vaccines can trigger neurological and endocrine diseases; didn’t I say that there is an intimate relationship between the immune, neurological and endocrine systems?”

    By law the vaccine companies have to put 2-3 times the required dose into the vial.

    If a breeding dog can’t develop a titer, it’s not a good breeding prospect b/c it will pass on the poor immune system.

    The three species with the most tendency to auto-immunity are humans, dogs and inbred mice.

    He said that boosting a mother’s vaccine prior to pregnancy will not increase the level of maternal immunity in the puppies. It is safer for the bitch to wait until after weaning to vaccinate.

    From the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, vol. 207 Aug 15, 1995:
    “In the past, it was believed that annual vaccination would not hurt and would probably help most animals. However concerns about side effects have begun to change this attitude. One disadvantage to over-vaccinating is cost. The client is paying for something with no effect or with the potential for an adverse reaction. I believe that adverse effects are increasing because we are putting more and more components into these animals …….There is a real concern that vaccines may predispose certain genetically susceptible individuals to immune-mediated disease. The more antigens we administer, the higher the potential for hyper-sensitivity. Type 1 is IgE mediated; type 2 cytotoxic antibody mediated; type 3 immune-mediated, type 4 cellular mediated. All of these hypersensitivies are natural parts of the immune response, but they cause a certain amount of tissue damage. In many cases it is impossible to show a direct connection between damage and a vaccine, since it is the accumulation of many antigens over many years that results in clinically evident disease.”

    Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XI, “Canine and Feline Vaccines,” Phipps et al:
    “A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal.”

    [full text from http://www.woodhavenlabs.com/vaccines.html ]

  10. Aleja says:

    Please note I did not author nor do I have any association with Woodhavenlabs.com site in my prior post. I am, however, a supporter of Dr. Schultz, who is in year 6 now of the Rabies Challenge Fund. Following are the latest results from the RCF website http://www.rabieschallengefund.org :

    A study conducted according to the USDA Title 9 canine vaccine licensing standard, was begun more than five years ago. The purpose was to determine if the duration of immunity from commercially available rabies vaccines was longer than 3 years, with the goal of extending state-mandated rabies boosters for dogs to 5, and then 7 years.

    The first rabies vaccine studied was selected based on the superior response it provided in the USDA challenge trials for licensing. Another licensed rabies vaccine was administered to a second, separate group of dogs 2 years after the first study began so that a minimum of two commercially available rabies vaccines would be tested.

    The second vaccine selected is the one currently administered to a very high percentage of dogs. Both vaccines demonstrated excellent protection based on antibody testing for each of the first three study years. However, fewer than 30% of dogs in the first vaccine group, now five years since vaccination, had serum rabies antibody titer levels considered positive on the Rapid Fluorescent Focus Inhibition Test (RFFIT). Some of the dogs with low or no detected RFFIT antibody were further tested to determine if they had “immunologic memory”. This in vitro test shows whether memory is present or not, even in cases when serum antibody cannot be detected at a level considered to be protective. The results of this further testing indicated that most of the dogs vaccinated five years ago, even without a positive RFFIT, do have “immunologic memory”. As soon as a USDA licensed facility can be reserved, we plan to challenge some of those dogs with rabies virus to determine if the memory response demonstrated actually correlates with protection.

    Our conclusion from studies with the initial rabies vaccine is that the immunity conferred by that product, and assessed by the in vitro RFFIT, was excellent for the first three years, but declined during the fourth year, and continued to drop during the fifth year. The second vaccine group, which is now three years from vaccination, will remain on study for at least two more years.

    Principal Investigator, Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, is preparing results of the study and details described above for scientific peer review and publication. That data will be made available to the public as soon as our paper has been accepted for publication.

  11. Aleja says:

    In re to the RFFIT standard mentioned in the RCF update, keep in mind it was established by the World Health Organization for humans, not dogs, who may be immune at a different rabies titer level than humans.
    I was informed “the vast majority of the dogs with no or low positive RFFIT results tested very high for immunologic memory, which is a strong indication of protection. If this had not been the case, we would not proceed with the challenge, and we do expect the challenge to verify the memory findings.”

    In addition, “they are hoping that the titer data, after it has been peer-reviewed, will establish the world’s first canine rabies titer standard which can be used in lieu of vaccination. If that titer data is verified by challenge, it will provide a solid scientific base upon which states can incorporate titer clauses into their laws.”

    (source Rabies Challenge Fund)

  12. skeptvet says:

    Thanks for the info. This is exactly the sort of study needed to justify changes in vaccination protocols. I look forward to reading the published results.

  13. Art says:

    We already have a usda approved rabies vaccine with a 4 year label. You still must give it at least every three years where I live if you want a county tag.

  14. Art says:

    Skeptvet and others go to the trenches section on vin about the recent 20/20 tv piece on unneeded veterinary vaccines, post 141 and ask bob for the Texas evidence about the failure of Texas vets to change. When I practiced in Ohio right out of vet school all the Ohio vets gave rabies every three years but when I got to Florida I started to give them every year like everyone else in Florida and Texas did. Maybe Ohio and California have better consumer protection laws that have helped prevent annual vaccines as the standard of care like they are in fla and Texas .
    I copy and pasted (link below) from one Florida veterinarian now one of the three currently running for Avma president, who was on the Avma vaccine committee. The possible future Avma president was telling other vets on a vet only newsgroup that florida requires rabies every three years and then I went to his hospital website and copy and pasted an annual rabies vaccine promotion for annual by law Rabies vaccines.
    I understand about cognitive dissonance and have observed other Florida vets making similar 3 year statements but yet I still see their medical records where clients dogs and cats are still vaccinated for rabies every year. I do not see how the two statements held in there minds can both be accurate. How do you tell Avma members that fla law says every 3 years and the public fla law is every year? It’s difficult to get the public to believe me when I tell them rabies is not required every year in Florida when the public is told by other vets rabies by law every year. The client thinks I am wanting them to break the law because the other vets they call say rabies by law every year. I even had a tv reporter interview me who called the local health department and ask how often Rabie vaccines were required and the health department told him over the phone every year.
    The other problem in fla and I suspect in Texas is that annual license fees linked to rabies vaccines are so high that local governments are addicted to annual rabies vaccines tag fees to fund local government budgets. The vets around me are required by law to sell tags and turn clients in to the government if they do not buy a tag. If the government did not have vets selling 75 dollar a year tags in fla no one would get their house cat a tag if they had to get it somewhere else other than from the vet hospital. That’s because no one takes their indoor cat anywhere and the government down here in fla cannot even find illegals immigrants from out of the country let alone a house cat under the bed in the spare bedroom.
    Art Malernee Dvm
    Fla Lic 1820

  15. Art says:

    Here is the 20/20 tv pet vaccine thread reference everyone is talking about on Vin.com. about the “holistic” vet who was giving annual shots but says he has stopped selling unnecessary shots. Post 143 on the vin thread is the one you need to read and get bob from Texas to post studies or reference on who has stopped and who has switched to vaccines that have lower cancer rates. The vin thread is 200 plus now. If you can get bob from post 143
    to post on vin we will have the references even if 20/20 does not do a follow up.

  16. skeptvet says:

    So this shows that in 2011 in Minnesota, 39% of vets gave 3-year rabies vaccine more often than every 3 years. Most understood that the label duration was 3 years and told clients this, but they erroneously believed they were required by law to give it more often or that more frequent administration would lead to better protection. The board also found no evidence that more frequent administration led to any harm.

    It certainly sounds like more education of veterinarians is needed, though it is difficult to generalize based on this small population. As I said, in CA standard practice appears to be quite different, though I have only a subjective sense of that, not a formal survey.

    Thanks for the info!

  17. Art says:

    Here is a ten year old Texas study I found on the Internet critterfixer.com

    Veterinary Vaccination Recommendations Survey
    Houston-Metroplex, Texas – February 10, 2003

    Full service respondents……………………………… 146
    Cat only practices ……………………………………… 4
    Total clinics……………………………………………..150

    Clinic had Caller ID and refused to answer questions …4
    Hang-ups – …………………………………………………3

    Initial series of vaccinations given @

    4/6/8/12/16 weeks 11 7%
    6 /8/12 /16 weeks 133 88%
    8/12/16/weeks 5 3%
    series extended to 20 weeks 1 0.6%

    Parvo and corona every 6 months 25 17%
    Dhpp annually 119 75%
    Dhpp every 2 years 3 2%
    Dhpp every 3 years. 7 5%
    Dhpp at 1 yr good for life 1 0.6%
    Corona puppies only 10 7%
    Corona annually 97 66%
    Corona every 6 month 25 16%
    corona 18 12%
    Lepto annually 97 66%
    Lepto hunting dogs only 6 4%
    No lepto for small dogs 3 2%
    ~*No lepto 40 27%
    Lyme. 89 60%
    No Lyme. 44 30%
    Giardia 27 18%
    ~*No Giardia. 119 82%

    PLPRhCV annually 137 91%
    PLP RhCv every 2 years 5 3%
    *PLP RhCv every 3 years 7 4%
    ~Plp good for life RhCv every 3 years 1 0.6%
    FeLv annually 120 80%
    FeLv annually high risk only 17 11%
    FeLv every 2 years high risk only 5 3%
    ~* FeLv every 3 years high risk only 8 5%
    ~* Offer non adjuvanted Rabies 44 29%
    ~* Offer non adjuvanted PLPRhCV 11 7%
    ~ Offer non adjuvanted FeLV 12 8%
    Offer FIP 54 36%
    Offer FIV 93 62%
    Offer Intranasal RhCv 2 1.3%
    ~*Warning about injection
    site fibrosarcoma 73 48%
    ~Provide handout or written informed consent 5 3%
    ~*Advise to remove lumps which persist 48 32%
    Treat lumps with benadryl 5
    Treat lumps with cortisone 1
    Said injections don’t cause fibrosarcomas,
    not to worry 8 5%
    Updating their recommendations in the near future 5 3%
    Said they followed TAMU recommendations
    but did not.

  18. Art Malernee Dvm says:

    Dr Ron Schultz has been reported to have data to show :1.some dogs still have maternal antibodies at 3.5 months sufficient to block a rabies vaccination. 2. Some dogs at 3 months only develop IgM antibodies and one year is too late to “boost “the response so the “booster” one year later still only produces IgM antibodies. The patient never really gets long term protection. That would help explain why the dogs only vaccinated once for rabies before six months of age are the ones that show up as vaccine failures in the epidemiological study I posted.

  19. Art Malernee Dvm says:

    Another reason for rabies vaccine failure may be due to the brand of vaccine.
    It has been reported that According to Michel Aubert (former OIE rabies expert), the titer level recognised as effective against experimental challenge in cats and dogs is 0.1 IU/ml and 0.2 IU/ml, respectively, measured by RFFIT (Aubert 1992, p. 755).

    Therefore the 0.5 IU/ml (as required for dogs, cats and ferrets in international pet travel schemes) contains a safety margin.

    Because of the European Pet Travel Scheme (titer tests in lieu of quarantine) some large titer studies were done in UK, France, Switzerland and Sweden.

    In the Swiss study on rabies serology, the authors point out that vaccine failures (titers below 0.5) were associated with the vaccine brand.

    Which points to another interesting issue: Differences in titers might be caused by the challenge virus strain used to measure the neutralising antibodies.

    S.: Susan M. Moore et al., The influence of homologous vs heterologous challenge virus strains on the serological test results of rabies virus neutralising assays, 2005.

    Excerpt from the abstract: ” (…) the use of a homologous testing system resulted in approximately 30% higher titers for nearly two-thirds of the samples from both vaccine groups compared to a heterologous testing system”.

  20. Art Malernee Dvm says:

    Looks like a new law in California will not allow a pet vaccinated at 3 months for rabies to be revaccinated for rabies in 3-4 weeks like veterinarians do other puppy and kitten vaccines. So the way I read the new California law you still can vaccinate pets for rabies in California every year but it looks like you break the law if you booster a pet vaccinated at 3 months of age sooner than a year.
    LongLink @ leginfo.ca.gov…

    First paragraph page 2

    Every dog owner, after his or her dog attains the age of three
    months or older, shall, at intervals of time not more often than once a year,
    as may be prescribed by the department, procure its vaccination by a licensed
    veterinarian with a canine antirabies vaccine approved by the department
    and administered according to the vaccine label, unless a licensed
    veterinarian determines, on an annual basis, that a rabies vaccination would
    endanger the dog’s life due to disease or other considerations that the
    veterinarian can verify and document.

  21. jamie says:

    Why is it that HUMANS only get there vaccinations and boosts up to age 6 with a booster at about 12, with the exception of pertussis & tetanus ranging around every 10 yrs..?? Dogs, cats, what ever… They DO NOT need these vaccines every year. It is over kill. I donate to my local shelters so I can say I’m not worried about the monies, rather the health of my pets. I don’t over vaccinate my children. Why should I do such to my pets.?..

  22. skeptvet says:

    I’m not sure you’ve read my post. Most vaccines do not need to be given annually, I agree. However, some do, some need to be given every 3-5 years, some never need to be given, and for many we don’t know what the appropriate interval is for individual patients. My point is it’s a lot more complicated than you suggest.

    In humans, for example, we give influenza vaccines annually because the strain changes each season. We have had to add a vaccine for shingles even though the occurrence of chicken pox was supposed to convey lifelong immunity. Every organism, every life stage, and every individual have differences which have to be considered in deciding on a vaccination plan, so while “every shot every year” is clearly irrational, so is “one and done” or “here’s what’s done in humans let’s do this in dogs.” I’m just encouraging people to think about the nuances and the details.

    And I don’t know what you mean by “I don’t overvaccinate my children,” but I very much hope you follow the recommendations of the CDC and other public health organizations. These are based on very good science, and the tendency of parents to ignore these recommendatons in the last decade has led to many cases of preventable disese in children, expecially measles and pertusses.

  23. Pingback: Falconer Strikes Back: A Veterinary Homeopath Refutes the Skeptics and Reveals the Emperor’s Nakedness | The SkeptVet Blog

  24. R says:

    I would like to give my dog the rabies vaccine about every 5 years, not 3, but of course that would not be in compliance with the law.
    That being said, I do believe the benefits outweigh the risks. The information on this site has been very helpful and I am gradually getting over my fears.
    My dog is in good health now and he is making me very nervous, he’s a terrier and is going after every thing that moves!

  25. Kate says:

    My child is currently undergoing a course of post exposure rabies treatment becuase of an unfortunate encounter he had with someone else’s cat. This experience has made me much less concerned about whether or not my cats might be getting too many rabies shots. I’d much rather have the animals in my home over vaccinated than to potentially have them bring that virus into our home. Human PEP is proving to much more expensive, much more anxiety provoking, and much more difficult to get than the boosters my animals have always received on schedule.

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