Veterinarians are concerned that the “anti-vaxxer” movement in the United States could result in more pets becoming ill.
“Anti-vaxxers” are parents of children and/or pets who believe that the benfits of vaccines do not outweigh the risks of possible complications.
Epidemiologists broadly agree that the minority trend causing people to not want to vaccinate their children is the root cause of the current measles outbreak being experienced in this country. Even though most children are vaccinated, the population of unprotected children and adults is large enough that the current outbreak is nationwide.
From a public health standpoint, rabies is the most important vaccination for your pets to receive. In most states, a first rabies vaccination is administered at 12 weeks of age, boostered in one year, then repeated at 1-3 year intervals, in accordance with state law.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA),thanks goes to widespread rabies vaccination for elimination of the domestic-dog variant (strain) of rabies in the U.S. Rabies is almost uniformly fatal in both humans and pets.
Vaccination is also credited with the reduction in previously-common pet diseases such as canine distemper and panleukopenia in cats. Canine parvovirus no longer causes massive epidemics like it did in the 1970s. Again, credit goes to widespread pet vaccination.
AVMA President Dr. Ted Cohn says, “Unvaccinated pets are not only at risk themselves, but pose a threat to other animals, including young pets that have not yet received their full series of vaccines and thus are not fully protected, or those individuals that can’t be vaccinated due to pre-existing health issues. Vaccinating your pets helps to keep them safe from serious preventable diseases, while also protecting the health and well-being of these vulnerable populations.”
AVMA also addressed the issue of vaccine risk.
“Such adverse responses can vary from mild to severe, but most of these vaccine responses—such as fever, sluggishness and reduced appetite—are rare, mild and resolve quickly,” the organization stated. “For the majority of pets, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.”
Dr. Kimberly May, AVMA blogger and an assistant director in the AVMA’s Communications Division, says, “We understand pet owner’s concerns about vaccination, but urge pet owners to base their opinions on science and not ideology. Vaccinating your pet not only protects your pets, but your friends’ and neighbors’ pets as well. You’ve got enough other things to worry about, and having your pet’s health threatened by a preventable disease shouldn’t be one of them. Talk to your veterinarian about the vaccination schedule that’s right for your pet, based on your pet’s risk of exposure.”