AAHA releases new guidelines on canine vaccination

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The American Animal Hospital Association announced Sept. 5 that it has released new guidelines on canine vaccination.

According to the announcement, the 2017 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines were developed to support veterinary teams in determining vaccination protocols for individual patients on the basis of risk factors, life stage, and lifestyle.

The guidelines appeared in the September-October edition of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association and are available online in a mobile-ready version. They offer updates to the 2011 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines to help practicing veterinarians meet patient and client needs in a complex environment of infectious diseases. They provide expert insight on frequency, dosing, scheduling, and duration of immunity for vaccines.

AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines

The content of the guidelines has just about doubled, said Dr. Richard Ford, lead editor and an emeritus professor of internal medicine at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The large amount of material impacts veterinarians in general practice and shelter medicine, providing guidance on the selection and use of vaccines. The online version offers 16 menu options, with a succinct discussion of each subject.

Following the summary page are vaccination recommendations for general practice. The core vaccines are a combination vaccine against canine distemper virus, adenovirus-2, and parvovirus, with or without parainfluenza virus, and a vaccine against rabies virus. Noncore vaccines are against Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus, B bronchiseptica, Leptospira, Borrelia burgdorferi, canine influenza virus-H3N8, canine influenza virus-H3N2, and Crotalus atrox, the western diamondback rattlesnake.

Next up are the frequently asked questions. Dr. Ford said, "These have been completely revised and rewritten to address some of the very key issues that veterinarians confront—and I guess we could say key issues and controversies—regarding vaccines and vaccination in practice."

The new guidelines include the Lifestyle-Based Vaccine Calculator, an interactive tool designed to support the veterinary team's vaccination recommendations on the basis of risk factors and lifestyle. Another section covers antibody testing versus vaccination, with algorithms to help veterinarians interpret test results, depending on the test indication.

Dr. Ford emphasized that rabies vaccination is required by law in most states. The section and FAQ subsection on rabies vaccination offer information on laws, exemptions, and other topics.

Under the heading Overdue for Vaccination are subheadings for dogs 6 to 20 weeks of age and dogs more than 20 weeks of age, with recommendations for how to handle individual vaccines. The section on adverse reactions covers categories of adverse events and how to report a known or suspected adverse reaction.

The vaccination recommendations for shelter-housed dogs are quite distinct from the recommendations for general practice, Dr. Ford said. Vaccines recommended on intake are a combination vaccine against canine distemper virus, adenovirus-2, and parvovirus and a combination vaccine against B bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus. Depending on circumstances, rabies vaccination is recommended at intake or release. Optional vaccines are against B bronchiseptica, canine influenza virus-H3N8, and canine influenza virus-H3N2.

The guidelines cover vaccine licensing, vaccine storage and handling, the vaccine label, vaccine types, therapeutic biologics, legal considerations, resources, and references.

Dr. Ford reiterated that the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines are recommendations, not requirements. He said, "These are simply intended to give veterinarians a current perspective on the latest thinking as well as the products."

Related JAVMA content:

To titer or to revaccinate (July 1, 2016)

New guidance for pets exposed to rabies (March 1, 2016)