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Vaccine labels: Do your homework

02/14/2011 @ 1:16pm

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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