The AVA’s position statement Vaccination of dogs and cats means that for some adult animals, boosters for ‘core’ vaccines will be given every three years (triennially) rather than annually.

The core vaccines are distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus in dogs and herpes, parvovirus and calicivirus in cats.

This change would only apply to animals that have completed their puppy or kitten vaccinations plus the first annual booster after the puppy or kitten vaccinations have been completed.

Veterinarians will decide whether annual or triennial boosters will be used after considering the animals’ lifestyle and other risk factors, and discussing the decision with the owner. The risk of disease is higher whenever animals are together in large groups over extended periods of time, such as in boarding and daycare facilities, group training facilities and veterinary surgeries.

Veterinarians will take this into consideration when recommending an appropriate regime for core vaccinations

When dogs or cats enter one of these facilities, they may require specific additional boosters prior to entry, according to the policy of the individual establishment. It is critical for clients to contact the establishment at least 14 days prior to entry to check the requirements.

Canine cough is not a core vaccine and boosters must be given annually or before entering one of these facilities.

There is less data that vaccination against feline herpesvirus, a component of cat flu, gives full coverage for three years in situations of higher exposure. Because of this, it is recommended that cats receive a booster at least 14 days before entering one of these facilities.

What does this mean for animal businesses?

An animal business or facility has a legal responsibility for the animals in its care. The facility will specify the vaccination policy which they believe is best for the animals in their care. These facilities must consider the grouping of old, young, sick and those animals for which vaccination hasn’t worked well. There should be a written policy.

It is strongly recommended that vaccination certificates be photocopied to be sure of the actual brand of vaccine given (triennial/annual booster). The client’s word that this brand is a ‘three yearly booster’ should not be taken for granted.

The written policy statement for the facility should include what action will be taken in the event of an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease such as parvovirus, cat flu or canine cough. The procedure for notifying owners, or sending home animals at greater risk needs to be included. Clients should be given a copy of the policy at the time of admission.

Finally, the facility should have a good disinfection program, good biosecurity measures in place, good staff procedures and regular review of cleaning and disinfection operating procedures.

If you have any questions about the new vaccination policy, please get in touch with your local veterinarian or industry association for advice.

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