Vaccinations are probably one of the most common reasons  people bring their animals to the vet. Every year dogs and cats were due for all their vaccinations against deadly and debilitating diseases.
     Whilst the importance of vaccinating, or immunising, our pets  against these diseases hasn’t changed, the recommendations for the frequency of these vaccines has been looked into and reported upon by the World Small Animal Association. Their conclusion was that properly immunised adult dogs don’t need annual vaccinations of all the components of the C5 vaccine (Distemper, Hepatitis,  Parvovirus, Bordetella bronchiseptica and Canine Parainfluenza).  In particular the core components, which have been identified as Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus, only need boosting every 3 years as an adult dog. The Bordetella  and the Canine Parainfluenza are termed non-core vaccines and continue to be administered every year.

     This protocol was decided upon  in an effort to administer the vaccines for maximum effect with reduced risk of any adverse reactions. Clearly, if the evidence is strong that the same immunity is gained by giving the vaccines less frequently, then this should be done to limit the animal to potential side effects.
     Let’s go back a little to a comment i made earlier. All this is based upon a sound immunity generated when the animal is young. So we shall talk about the best protocol for the puppy and young adult.
     Puppies should ideally receive three initial vaccines a month apart eg typically 8, 12 and 16 weeks. A follow up vaccine 12 months later is needed of all the components again. It is only after  this that the animal may safely move to a 3 year cycle described above.

     I will supply a link to the WSAVA’s site and also our Australian veterinary Association and you can read for yourself the current recommendations.

     As always, I am happy to discuss  these protocols with you and occasionally people still want the traditional annual C5 for various reasons (eg being comfortable in the old protocol which was successful in their life experience). I am quite happy to administer the annual version if that is what you want - It is still your choice.
     The only practical concern you might have is whether the boarding kennels will accept this. Remember you will still be giving your dog an annual Bordetella/Parainfluenza (Kennel Cough) vaccine under the new regime. The over whelming response from all the major kennels we have dealt with has been that they accept this new protocol. Their main concern is that the kennel cough does not lapse, however I feel it is still wise to ask the kennel beforehand what their requirements are regarding vaccines. Some people are not up to date with this information and some simply disagree with it for no particular sensible, scientific reasons. So it is best to make sure before you book.

     The cat situation is similar however most catteries do not seem to board cats with anything other than yearly vaccines. So again , please confirm with the particular cattery what they require before you book there. However for the pet cat living at home the WSAVA also advocates 3 yearly vaccines!

Just a final summing up regarding these new protocols:
      Firstly, these are recommendations coming from the senior conservative scientific world body. This is not decided upon like  some  superficial whimsical trend or a fashion and this is not generated from a small extremist group.
     Secondly, vaccinations protect the community of animals by trying to protect as many animals as possible. Vaccinating the same few animals unnecessarily with a higher frequency of vaccinations will not help to control the outbreak of these diseases. Successful immunisation of more individuals has a better effect at keeping these diseases at bay.
     It goes without saying that vaccinations remain one of the safest, most effective tools at preventing serious illness in animals.

Australian Veterinary Association Vaccination Protocol -

World Small Animal Veterinary Association Vaccination Guidelines -


© 2017 Shannon Murphy


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