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Maximize the value of vaccines

One of the best ways to prevent pain and suffering in animals is to keep them from getting sick in the first place. Vaccines are extremely helpful in that effort, but much of their effectiveness depends on proper usage.

The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association's Gold Standards III on animal welfare dedicates a lengthy section to proper vaccination use. Here are just a few of the detailed vaccination protocols that are recommended:

Develop vaccination protocols with the herd veterinarian.

Change needles every 5 to 10 injections, or any time a needle becomes bent, burred or has evidence of blood.

Avoid vaccinating animals during times of stress, including extreme heat.

Avoid multiple (greater than two injections) vaccinations when possible, especially when Gram-negative bacterins are being administered.

Keep epinephrine and flunixin (for vaccines containing siderophore receptors and porins) in the vaccine toolkit for treating adverse reactions.

A standards-bearing group at the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization concurs with many of these recommendations. In addition, they offer these vaccine-use tips:

Do not break the "cold chain" for vaccines requiring refrigeration, from the time of purchase to the time of use.

Once opened, a bottle of modified live vaccine should be used within 1 hour, and a bottle of killed vaccine should be used within 6 to 8 hours.

Remix killed vaccines (invert the bottle several times, but do not shake harshly) several times during the day, because some vaccines settle.

Exposure to sunlight and heat will kill MLV viruses very quickly, as will alcohol used to disinfect needles. Use a new needle when drawing vaccine from the bottle.

Mark automatic syringes so that syringes used for killed vaccines are not subsequently used for MLVs.

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