Not all vaccines are created equal, and the myriad of choices can be confusing. Your veterinarian is the best resource to help you sort through product information and make science-based vaccine recommendations to provide complete protection for your herd. If your cattle aren’t fully protected against respiratory and reproductive diseases, your herd’s health, productivity and profitability could be at risk.
“Vaccines need to be carefully assessed and chosen to ensure your dairy operation isn’t in danger of a disease outbreak,” says Greg Edwards, DVM, Cattle Technical Services, Pfizer Animal Health. “The investment you make in selecting the right disease prevention products also can help reduce the significant costs and labor associated with disease treatment.”
Dr. Edwards suggests sitting down with your veterinarian to evaluate vaccines based on eight areas of product differentiation and pick vaccines that best fit your management needs and vaccination program goals.
- Label indications and levels of protection: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants label claims based on demonstrated efficacy for each disease organism in the vaccine. These levels of protection include: Prevention of Infection, Prevention of Disease, Aids in Disease Prevention, Aids in Disease Control and Other Claims.
- Duration of immunity: Duration of immunity (DOI) is the minimum amount of time you can expect a vaccine to help protect your cattle, based on manufacturer efficacy and disease challenge studies. A vaccine’s DOI should help protect during the critical risk period for disease risk. Your veterinarian can help schedule revaccination protocols according to your vaccines’ DOI.
- Immune response time: Some types of vaccines stimulate protective immunity more rapidly than others. For example, intranasal vaccines can help provide a quick immune response.
- Modified-live virus vs. killed virus vaccines: Modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines contain live organisms that can undergo limited replication within the body. MLV vaccines can have benefits including rapid immune response,1 comprehensive immune response and duration of immunity,2-4 and few post-vaccination reactions.4
- Route of administration: Follow the route of administration indicated on the label to help achieve the expected efficacy of the vaccine. Your vaccine choice and preferred route of administration may depend on your management capabilities, and training your employees on administration may be necessary.
- Safe for use in pregnant cows and calves nursing cows: Choose vaccines that are safe for use during pregnancy to help bolster immunity of the cow and enhance colostrum quality. Having flexibility to revaccinate cows during gestation provides protection against viral shedding and supports herd immunity.
- Convenience: Vaccines come in a variety of combinations that can be tailored to fit your disease challenges and management needs. Your veterinarian can help you identify disease risks based on herd history or geographic challenges. When choosing combination vaccines, remember that DOI and levels of protection may be different for each antigen in the vaccine.
- Cost-effectiveness: Profitability on the operation is important, and cost-effectiveness is always a factor in product selection. Work with your veterinarian to discuss factors that impact a cost-effective vaccine, including management time and labor for administration, vaccine combinations, levels of protection, duration of immunity, cost of a potential disease outbreak, and price.
Partner with your veterinarian to select vaccines that provide complete protection for your cattle and optimal results for your operation.