The AAHA has developed guidelines to aid practitioners making decisions about appropriate vaccination recommendations for their canine patients.
Included in the guidelines is a review of immunology as it relates to vaccine response, a historical perspective on current vaccination recommendations, and information to allow practitioners to develop individualized vaccination recommendations.
An executive summary of the "Report of the AAHA Canine Vaccine Task Force" was released March 24 at the association's annual meeting in Phoenix. It appears in the March/April issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association and the April/May issue of the association's TRENDS magazine. The full report appears on the AAHA members only section of the AAHA Web site.
The evolution of biologics is a continuum of advances entailing efficacy, safety, and usage, according to the executive summary.
"The resulting recommendations for revaccination reflected these product limitations, and most of the widely accepted recommendations for revaccination were based on a 'better safe than sorry' approach because the diseases these vaccines were designed to prevent were widespread and devastating," the summary states.
For some time, a growing number of experts have supported defining core versus noncore vaccines and adopting a triennial vaccination protocol when using core vaccines, the summary continues. The American Feline Practitioners Association recently updated its vaccination guidelines. In addition, the AVMA has addressed the vaccination question with its Principles of Vaccination and a report from the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents.
"AAHA's guidelines are based on limited scientific evidence that is supported by consensus and expert opinion, as well as clinical experience," said Dr. Michael Paul, chairperson the AAHA task force that developed the vaccine guidelines."
"The guidelines should not be construed as dictating an exclusive protocol, course of treatment, or procedure," Dr. Paul cautioned. "They serve as a guide for developing vaccine schedules for individual patients."
The AAHA formed the task force in March 2001 in response to limited published scientific information and ongoing questions related to the indications for vaccination and the appropriate schedule for revaccination.
The task force comprised private practitioners, academic scholars, university clinical specialists, and industry representatives—recognized experts in internal medicine, immunology, microbiology, infectious diseases, and companion animal practice.
Their job was to gather and make information available that would help veterinarians in making decisions about appropriate care of their canine patients with respect to currently available vaccines.
Dr. Paul said, "We expect that the guidelines will be accepted as a flexible tool that allows all veterinarians to develop individualized vaccine recommendations with the input of their clients for every patient."