Vaccines were one of the most important and successful advents to modern medicine. Vaccination has been able to save an untold number of lives and continues to do so to this day. Vaccines work through stimulation of the immune system in 'fooling the body' that a disease is in fact present when it is not. The immune system then creates humoral and cell mediated responses that make the body 'ready' if it ever truly comes in contact with the real disease. Unfortunately when a medication has the ability to interact at this profound level on the immune system, some pets will have adverse reactions. Furthermore, the use of a powerful immune stimulatory drug needs to be judiciously used. If a reaction occurred, is it because too much was given? Not at all. If given at the right dosage, there will be a small group or percentage of all pets that will have adverse reactions to vaccines. The choice to vaccinate will depend upon the risks of the pet, the age and health of the pet, the severity of reaction, etc... Common Reactions There are many types of vaccine reactions possible and they range from
the mild to life threatening. The two most common ones that are seen
are local swelling at the injection site and a non specific vaccine
reaction. This non specific reaction typically includes generalized
aches, pains, soreness and some loss of appetite for several days
following the vaccination. Many vaccinations, such as modified live
viruses, induce a system wide response. As the body's immune system
mounts an immune response, the body will have flu like symptoms. These
symptoms are usually mild but sometimes can be uncomfortable enough to
warrant the prescription of pain medications (analgesic like NSAIDs,
etc...) and on rare occasion require supportive care like fluids. Anaphylaxis Anaphylaxis
is an immediate system wide reaction by the immune systems (Gell and
Coombs Type 1 hypersensitivity). It can be associated with hives,
facial swelling, pale gums, acute collapse, vomiting, difficulty
breathing, airway restriction, intense anxiety, loss of blood pressure,
and other serious clinical signs. This is a medical emergency and the
pet needs to be taken to a veterinarian / emergency veterinary hospital
immediately. The time frame for the reaction is usually seconds to
minutes from the time the vaccine is administered but may seen after
several hours. Delayed Reactions There are also many other reactions that may
occur and even be delayed a month or two after the vaccine is
administered. Vaccines have been implicated in multiple immune mediated
disorders such as IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia). Many of
these disorders can be debilitating and life threatening. The clinical
signs can occur acutely or be gradual in onset.
Specific Vaccine Reactions
Rattlesnake Venom Vaccine
The rattlesnake vaccine can have a specific reaction related to only this vaccine. A seroma (a pocket of clear reddish fluid) or local swelling can occur. It will occur in less than 1% of the time the vaccine is given, regardless of whether the pet has had a reaction to it or not. The seroma can be quite large and sometimes uncomfortable.
Typically this seroma will resolve with time and warm compressing. On rare occasion a drain might need to be surgically placed.
If this reaction occurs, then the pet can still get subsequent rattlesnake vaccines in the future as the risk of forming a seroma will be neither increased or decreased.
If your pet has had a reaction to this vaccine I would recommend that you email Red Rock Biologic or call them at (866) 897-7625.
Click here for Red Rock Biologic Website
Adjuvanted Cat Vaccines
There are many feline vaccines that are currently available, especially those that are directly purchasable by the consumer that have adjuvants. Adjuvants are compounds within the vaccine that make the vaccines work better. Typically they work by creating local inflammation at the injection site.
Cats are susceptible to cancer formation at sites that bear chronic inflammation, like those area where adjuvanted vaccines are administered. The cancer that is generated is very bad. Even with aggressive treatment, many cats will die from this type of cancer.
For this reason, non adjuvanted vaccines are recommended. Please click on the icon to the right for more information, including the type of vaccines that you should be using with your cat.
Click here for Vaccine Associated Sarcoma Article
Intranasal Bordetella Vaccine
The intranasal bordetella bronchiseptica, or kennel cough, vaccine can lead to sneezing and sinus irritation. It is a live bacterium. While this vaccine will not cause kennel cough, it can lead to marked sneezing for several days in some pets.
Click here for AAHA Vaccine Explanation
Click Here for Dr Jean Dodds Vaccine Protocol
Instead of yearly vaccinations, some people and their veterinarians may
chose to perform vaccine titers. A vaccine titer is a blood test that
is performed by your veterinarian to evaluate the blood concentration
of antibodies against the vaccinated disorder. If the blood antibody
concentration is of an adequate level, then the body is known to have
circulating antibodies and the pet is assumed to be protected. Even a
low level of antibody titer suggests that the patient has some humoral
immunity as memory effector B cells must be present in order to have
any antibody presence.
While the blood titer can help evaluate Humoral Immunity, it does not
in any way evaluate for CMI (Cell Mediated Immunity). However, while a
titer negative pet may have cell mediated protection (CMI will not
prevent infection but will prevent disease), it is recommended that the
pet be vaccinated so that the humoral immunity is also stimulated.
Dr W Jean Dodds has become famous for her work and recommendations with vaccinations. She is an advocate of pursuing vaccine titers for adult pets that have undergone the initial puppy vaccine series and year booster. Click here for Dr Dodd's Vaccine Protocol.