Vaccine Issues &
WSAVA Guidelines

2015 – 2017


A Summary 

Dr. Jean Dodds recently gave two invited lectures on vaccine issues and guidelines for veterinarians in Israel. The following is a summary of the discussion.


Full report can be read here.

Update - Vaccine Issues,
2015 – 2017

World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) vaccine guidelines began in 2006. They provide evidence-based global advice for vaccination best practices in dogs and cats.


These guidelines and others, such as those of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), and British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS) in the United Kingdom are gradually changing routine vaccination practice worldwide.

Major impact on 
Small Animal Practice 


[The guidelines also] help ensure that pet owners and breeders have scientifically – based advice, and robust, safer vaccines and vaccination protocols for dogs and cats.


Excellent advice overall!

Summary Comments on 
Vaccine Policy

Current knowledge supports the statement that:


No vaccine is always safe, no vaccine is always protective and no vaccine is always indicated.”

Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination.


“Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination. This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information as well as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.

These statements still apply today [AAHA 2017; WSAVA 2010/2016/2017]


Prof. Michael J. Day

“Vaccination is an act of veterinary science that should be considered as

individualized medicine, tailored for the needs of the individual pet, and delivered

as one part of a preventive medicine program in an annual health check visit.”

Key Points on Vaccine Issues

  • Modern vaccine technology has afforded effective protection of companion animals against serious infectious diseases.
  • But, this advancement brings an increased risk of adverse reactions (vaccinosis).
  • Some are serious, chronically debilitating and even fatal.
  • Must balance this benefit/risk equation = more benefit than risk.
  • “Be wise and immunize, but immunize wisely!” (Dr. Ron Schultz)

Alternatives to Current Vaccine Practices

  • Measure serum antibody titers.
  • Avoid unnecessary vaccines or over-vaccinating.
  • Caution vaccinating sick or febrile animals.
  • Tailor specific minimal vaccine protocol for dogs/cats breeds or families at risk for adverse reactions.
  • Start core vaccination series later (9-10 weeks, dog; 8 weeks cat) [WSAVA states that at 6-7 weeks, 4 doses are needed with last one at or after 16 weeks; if starting at 8-9 weeks, only 3doses are needed = preferred].
  • Alert caregiver to watch puppy/kitten behavior and health after boosters.
  • Avoid revaccination of those with prior adverse events.

Case Examples of Vaccinosis

  • Acute and Subacute Reactions – anaphylaxis and anaphylactoid – occur minutes to several days post-vaccination; can be severe and even fatal.
  • Delayed and Chronic Reactions – usually occur 5-21 days post-vaccination; peak time is 10-14 days. Can be delayed longer, even months with rabies vaccines.
  • Clinical signs vary from seizures, immune-mediated damage of blood and other tissues/organs, even death.

Vaccine Conclusions for Canines

Factors increasing risk of adverse events 3 days after vaccination:

  • Young adult age
  • Small-breed size
  • Neutering
  • Multiple vaccines given per visit

These risks should be communicated to clients [Moore et al, JAVMA 227:1102–1108, 2005]

Vaccine Conclusions for Felines

Factors increasing risk of adverse events 30 days after vaccination:

  • Young adult age
  • Neutering
  • Multiple vaccines given per visit

These risks should be communicated to clients, and the number of vaccines administered concurrently limited [Moore et al, JAVMA 231:94-100, 2007]