Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:36 AM

Vaccination Moderation

A couple of incidents in my own life made me give a lot more thought to this generally accepted program of yearly booster vaccinations for my pets. When we moved to our present home from the city 15 years ago, Min and Sweet Pea were 10 years old. I decided that, since I wasn't going to let them outdoors anymore, they were also not going to receive any more vaccinations. I figured that, knowing what I did about immunology after several more years of college study, that they must be immune after 10 years of shots. However, years later when J. took Pea to an area vet because she was suffering from kidney failure, she tried very belligerently to force a rabies shot on her even though she was ill! This, of course, is a big no-no. I do think it shows the strain vets were showing after several years of arguing over animal vaccines, though. J. said "no" and we never returned to that veterinarian again.

Back to the "incidents". The first was the arrival of the three cats that grace this blog most of the time. The first series of shots they received caused no problems, but the second and final series caused each kitten to develop a lump at the injection site within 24 hours. I told the vet about it each time, and they seemed surprised. I have since spoken to other people and read articles about this phenomenon, and it is not all that uncommon. This signaled to me that these cats were having an adverse reaction to the vaccinations and they have had no more.

The other life change that really opened my eyes involved my returning to junior college after my layoff in the early 2000s. The laws now required that persons entering college prove that they had been vaccinated against all the big players (polio, mumps, measles) before they could be accepted for matriculation. Otherwise, the shots would have to be re-administered. There was no way I was going to expose myself to that! Of course, I had no idea where my records were, so my doctor took a blood sample for testing. The test returned with the result of "permanently immune". If this were the case after thirty-some-odd years, why wouldn't it be the same for cats and dogs, who have a much shorter life span? I felt I finally had the answer to the question I had asked of my veterinarian employers all those years ago.

Not only is the frequency of injection a problem, but also the fact that multiple vaccines are injected at once. This, I feel, only overwhelms the immune system with too many enemies and causes it to overreact, causing illness and/or side effects, instead of causing a moderate response, i.e., creating antibodies to only one type of invader at a time. This is a concern for parents whose children are of vaccinating age, as well. Family members very recently had a very difficult time finding a doctor who would inoculate their son with one vaccine at a time; the physician, for his part, had difficulty locating such vaccines. This, despite all the debate that has been ongoing for the past 15 years, at least!

Tomorrow: How effective are these vaccines? Hmmm?
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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