While vaccinations can prevent or minimize disease, the effectiveness of vaccines also relies, in part, on the effectiveness of the vaccination program. Follow the guidelines below to help strengthen your program.
Protect foals by vaccinating pregnant mares. As Dr. Johnson explains, this is the smartest tack a breeder can take because “a foal acquires its immunity for the first three or four months of its life from the mare and its first milk.”
Adhere to a professionally administered routine. When you first start a horse on a vaccination program, you usually have to give two shots four to eight weeks apart in order for the horse to acquire immunity. Stick to the initial vaccine and booster schedule and leave the vaccinations to your veterinarian. “Vaccine failures can often be attributed to a vaccine that hasn’t been properly stored, is over-date, and so forth,” says Dr. Johnson. “Additionally, there is the very rare risk of an allergic reaction; if a horse does develop a reaction to the vaccine given by a horse owner, the horse might die from it.” A veterinarian at the scene could counteract that potential tragedy.
Keep vaccination records. These should detail what vaccines were given and how often. It can be extremely difficult – and risky – to treat a horse for certain diseases if the animal’s vaccination history isn’t known. Tetanus, for example, requires the potentially perilous anti-serum if no tetanus history is available.