Factors to Consider When Selecting a Vaccine

July 12, 2009 07:00 PM

Building immunity and preventing disease are integral parts to achieve livestock wellness on your operation. Incorporating demonstrated vaccines into a well-designed vaccination protocol helps enhance your livestock's immune system response to disease, thus keeping cattle healthy. This in turn helps deliver optimal growth and production while minimizing costs associated with disease.

"Implementing a vaccination protocol is part of an overall strategy meant to lead directly to healthy cattle and financially profitable operations,” says Douglas Braun, DVM, senior veterinarian for Pfizer Animal Health. "When building a protocol, it's always best to work with your veterinarian to identify the diseases that most threaten your operation.”  

When looking at the vaccines on the market and sorting through the competitive products and facts, Braun recommends that both veterinarians and producers turn toward an unbiased source to help make the purchase decision—USDA.

The type of label claim a vaccine will be granted is based on an evaluation by the Center for Veterinary BiologicalsS, which is part of the Animal and Plant Inspection Service of USDA. The USDA may grant one of five possible label claims:

  1. Prevention of infection: Prevents all colonization or replication of challenge organism.
  2. Prevention of disease: Highly effective in preventing clinical disease.
  3. Aid in disease prevention: Aids in preventing disease by a clinically significant amount.
  4. Aid in disease control: Aids in reduction of disease severity, duration or onset.
  5. Other claims: Products with beneficial effects other than direct disease control.

The best way to find out what label indication applies to a particular vaccine is to read the label closely. The approved label for a given vaccine helps us understand the expected performance of the product. Most vaccines on the market have the "aid in disease prevention” or "aid in disease control” claim. It is rare for a vaccine to satisfy the requirements to receive the more robust "prevention of infection” or "prevention of disease” label indications. Always read the label closely before making a decision about which product best fits the needs of your herd.

Beyond looking for the label claim when choosing a vaccine, Braun recommends getting more information about the vaccine's duration of immunity (DOI). Vaccines have traditionally been labeled for repeat dosing within 12 months, or administration of a booster within a certain time period, without any clear evidence supporting the expectation that the vaccine was actually effective for that given length of time. Today, however, more manufacturers are providing the USDA with challenge data to help support their DOI claim.

In addition to USDA label claims and the DOI data, producers should ask manufacturers for challenge trial data. Gathered when trials are conducted to evaluate the efficacy of a product, this data can tell a producer how a vaccine should work on their farm.

"These challenge trials help us understand what we can expect in real life from a vaccine,” Braun said. "I would encourage producers and veterinarians to ask for challenge trial information from the manufacturers. Ask for everything that is out there. It is helpful in making decisions on what products will be most useful.”

Braun recommends producers review with their veterinarian their herd immunity strategy, vaccination protocol and the label claims on any products they are currently using to be sure they are protecting their herds from diseases of concern.

For more information on duration of immunity, go to www.bovi-shieldgold.com.

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