Policy spells out reasons for vaccination and following labeling

Published on May 09, 2018

Recognizing an aversion to vaccination among some members of the public and concerned that some veterinarians are advocating dosing of vaccines that deviates from the labeled instructions, an AVMA council and an AVMA committee saw a need to revise the Association's policy on "Vaccination Principles" to more clearly elucidate the principles and ensure the policy is up-to-date.

The AVMA Board of Directors, while meeting April 5-6, approved revisions recommended by the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and the council's Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee.

"The use of vaccines has been proven to be highly efficacious and beneficial to the health of veterinary patients as well as the general public," according to the revised policy. "Historically, vaccination has had a dramatic effect upon decreasing the incidence of infectious disease in the animal population. Appropriate decisions concerning individual vaccine selection and vaccination program choices are best made under veterinarian-client-patient relationships."

The policy states: "While vaccine safety is tested by vaccine companies prior to licensing for general use, individual instances of adverse reactions can and do occur. This is generally a small percentage of the vaccinated population, and the benefits of vaccination have been shown to far outweigh the risks."

The policy also states: "Failure to administer a vaccine in the method deemed appropriate by the manufacturer (e.g., allowable concurrent treatments, route of administration, full dose) may result in suboptimal protection and/or adversely alter the established safety profile of the products. All manufacturer cautionary warnings on vaccines should be followed. Veterinarians should recognize that failure to use vaccines according to manufacturer-labeled directions may result in potential liability to the veterinarian in the case of an adverse event or lack of efficacy."