Vaccinations; Are you getting your money’s worth?

Published on Thu, 06/28/2018 - 9:33am

Vaccinations; Are you getting your money’s worth?

 By Michael Cox for American Cattlemen

  Although many modern vaccines are offering protection against seven or more life-threatening diseases in a single shot, producers should not become complacent around proper vaccine management and administration, simply because the products are so user friendly.

 The desired benefits of vaccines will only be fully realized if they are stored, handled and administered correctly.

 Regardless of whether a modified live vaccine or a dead vaccine is being administered, the product should be stored in a safe environment at the appropriate temperature until the time of use. Most vaccines require storage at refrigerator temperature, and cattlemen should consider using coolers when moving vaccines and working cattle outdoors. Exposing vaccines to freezing temperatures, direct sunlight or the heat of a farm truck during summer can alter the nature and effectiveness of the vaccine. The vaccine should be within expiration date and ‘fresh’; it is best practice to only rehydrate small quantities of vaccine at a time for immediate use.

 With calf preconditioning and weaning taking place over the coming months, it can be tempting to work livestock once, and administer all vaccines, wormers and any other animal health treatments on the same day. However, ‘stacking’ vaccines and other products can overload the animal’s immunity responsiveness and reduce the desired benefits of vaccinating. In particular, using several gram-negative vaccines at once can create endotoxic reactions in cattle. Producers are encouraged to administer gram-negative vaccines one week apart, if more than two vaccines are to be used as part of the herd health plan. Most preconditioning programs recommend vaccinations for IBR, BVD, PI3, BRSV, 7-way clostridial vaccine, Mannheimia haemolytica and Haemophilus somnus. Other vaccines may also be required depending on the disease status of your local area and the health status required by future buyers of the livestock.
If using a modified live vaccine for IBR in breeding females, care must be taken to complete the vaccination program at least 30 days before breeding. As IBR has negative effects on ovaries and follicular health, so too does the Modified Live Vaccine for IBR, as the vaccine mimics infection and ‘primes’ the immune system to create antibodies. Once the 30-day period has passed after the initial MLV IBR shot, ovary and follicular health return to normal. Cow-calf pair producers should take extra precautions if using MLV IBR on nursing calves; as viral shedding from vaccinated calves can cause the negative ovary effects previously mentioned if Momma cows are ‘un-primed’ and have not being vaccinated themselves.

Avoid Stress
 Cattle should be worked in a low-stress manner as increased cortisol levels in the blood can negatively effect the body’s ability to make antibodies. Calves should not be weaned or moved from pasture to feedlot on the same day as vaccination. Shedding from viral vaccines can occur if calves are stressed after vaccination. The calf may become sick and full immunity will not have been achieved; leaving the animal at risk of disease later in life. If you are unsure of the vaccine status of newly purchased animals, research from University of Arkansas suggests that it may be beneficial to allow new animals a period of two weeks to ‘settle’ into their new home before giving vaccines, rather than administering shots straight off the truck. Researchers found that delaying a MLV IBR vaccine by two weeks helped to increase average daily gain in weaned calves and also improved immune response levels, compared to animals that received the vaccine on the day they arrived to the feedlot.

 Administering booster shots at the correct time-interval is crucial to developing a strong immunity response. Advice from Michigan State University Extension recommends that vaccine booster shots be administered two to four weeks after the initial shot, even if not specified on the vaccine label. Extension specialists claim that although it may not technically necessary to give the second booster shot in some cases, the second booster shot develops stronger immunity, especially if vaccine failure happened during the initial shot.
Correct site of administration is also important and is an area that can change as manufacturers develop easier to administer vaccines. Some products that have required intramuscular injection in the past have changed to subcutaneous injection. Producers should double-check the product label in-case of changes to injection site. Beef Quality Assurance programs recommend that injections be given in the neck or behind the shoulder. Shots into the rump are to be avoided as abscesses and meat quality can be effected in the most valuable cuts of meat. Giving shots into clean, dry skin with small 16 to 18 gauge needles will limit stress on the animal and adverse reactions.

 Given the potential for major losses from the disease we vaccinate against, it is important that we get full value from any vaccines we use and follow label instructions correctly. Storing and administering vaccines properly in a low-stress environment will allow strong antibody production and increased levels of immunity.