Vets raise awareness on new anti-vaccination risk

By Tyla Harrington

A LOCAL vet believes ‘anti-vaxxer’ propaganda is misplaced and doesn’t serve any purpose.

It follows a report from which found 3 per cent of pet owners didn’t believe in vaccinations. That equates to 400,000 Australians who don’t believe in protection against diseases.

Rochester Veterinary Practice principle Keith Fletcher, who has been with the practice for almost 17 years, said there were two cases of parvovirus from Echuca about one month ago.

‘‘If there was 100 per cent vaccination, parvovirus wouldn’t exist,’’ Dr Fletcher said.

‘‘When you have high levels of vaccination you develop herd immunity which actually protects the non-vaccinated as well, but you need to get up to really high levels to achieve that.

‘‘It is a heck of a lot easier to vaccinate and prevent a disease that’s potentially fatal and very expensive to treat than it is to actually deal with the disease.

‘‘Nobody wants to lose a puppy.’’

The report also revealed 27 per cent of cat and dog owners do not keep their pets’ vaccinations up to date.

Dr Fletcher said nationally it did not surprise him but he didn’t think it would be as high locally.

‘‘A lot of people get the initial vaccine done and slack off on the boosters but that’s still giving better protection than nothing,’’ he said.

The risk with that, Dr Fletcher said, was an animal’s immunity could wear off.

‘‘Parvovirus is mostly contracted in younger animals,’’ he said.

‘‘When we see cases of parvovirus, 99.9 per cent of cases occur in animals who haven’t been vaccinated.

‘‘So the vaccine is very protective and if it is done early enough it will give good protection to the animal.’’

Dr Fletcher said animals should be vaccinated at six to eight weeks with a second injection at 10-12 weeks followed by a booster a year later, protecting the animal against distemper hepatitis and parvovirus.

‘‘Depending on the vaccine used by the vet practice they’ve either gone to annual boosters or three-yearly boosters,’’ he said. ‘‘You can also vaccinate against kennel cough which is a yearly vaccination. That’s not a life threatening disease, it’s more of a nuisance disease.

‘‘We do that as optional for clients. If they’re going to be exposed to lots of different dogs it’s probably worthwhile doing or if they have to go to kennels then it’s a requirement.’’