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Vaccine labels: Do your homework

Vaccines are essential tools
for helping prevent and control infectious diseases in a herd. But with
hundreds of vaccines and vaccine combinations available, selecting the right
one may be daunting. Yet, making the right decision is critical to a successful
cattle operation. With so many choices, it’s important to understand a label’s
guidelines so cattle aren’t left susceptible.

“Vaccine labels and claims
sometimes seem complicated, but they do contain a lot of important
information,” says J.P. Pollreisz, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health. “That’s why it is
essential for producers to talk with their veterinarians and always read the
label before choosing and administering a vaccine.”

Pollreisz says labels give
information about handling and administering vaccines, and determining which
cattle can be vaccinated. They also list precautions, vaccine schedules, and
withdrawal information.

Vaccine labels include one
of five USDA-approved claims for each vaccine component. These five levels are: 

• Prevention of infection.
• Prevention of disease.
• Aid in disease prevention.
• Aid in disease control.
• Other claims.

These claims let the
producer know the level of performance to expect for each disease component in
the vaccine.

For diseases that can really
affect a producer’s bottom line, such as bovine respiratory disease (BRD),
Pollreisz recommends producers look for vaccines that offer the highest level
of protection available and have a demonstrated duration of immunity.

“There can be a big
difference in the level of protection a vaccine offers from one label claim to
the next,” Pollreisz says. “For example, a vaccine labeled to prevent disease
will be highly effective in preventing clinical disease. However, while a
vaccine labeled to aid in the prevention of disease may prevent disease by a
significant amount, it still may be less than that required to support a claim
of disease prevention.”

When deciding on a vaccine
program for your cattle, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian who
can help you choose the most effective products and develop the best program
for your herd.  

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