There has been a lot of discussion lately on this topic. Most horse owners prefer to have veterinarians vaccinate their horses, but many are comfortable doing it themselves and have done so for years without any complications. This can save some money and can be more convenient for those people who have been trained to do it. This growing trend has caused some vaccine companies and more recently, insurance companies, to respond to the increased potential for possible problems that could arise. They have started an awareness campaign to let the horse-owning public know that there are advantages to having veterinarians administer the vaccines and potential adverse consequences if owners elect to vaccinate their horses themselves.
First, the reasons for concern: vaccines obtained through retail channels may have suffered from improper temperature control or handling making them less effective or potentially harmful. Additionally, poor administration technique or timing may also decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine or cause significant reactions such as abscesses or anaphylaxis. These all lead to more complaints to the vaccine companies, which could result in losses for the vaccine manufacturer in the form of complications costs covered and more adverse drug reaction reports to the FDA. These same concerns exist for the equine insurance companies and have led some insurance companies to stop covering medical expenses or mortality claims if a horse has a problem associated with vaccines administered by someone other than a veterinarian.
Now, for the advantages of having a veterinarian vaccinate your horse: your veterinarian is well trained in the appropriate timing and technique for vaccinating your horse and has access to the latest information on the best vaccines to use and any emerging diseases that may need to be considered. If your horse does have a reaction, he or she is capable of responding and treating rapidly, especially in the case of anaphylaxis. Vaccine companies have stated that they will guarantee their vaccines and will reimburse expenses associated with any vaccine break or injection site complication, but only if the vaccine was given by a veterinarian. The wellness programs associated with other equine products also often require that a veterinarian administer vaccinations in order for reimbursement in the event that the horse were to colic. Finally, many horse venues now require proof of vaccination from your veterinarian in order to compete.
As always, we are here to help and hope you will call us with any questions you may have.