Vaccination gives boost when needed

Talk to your vet about your current vaccination programs

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COLUMBUS — An effective vaccination program is important to minimize disease risk and maximize productivity and profitability of your farm.

Today we have so many vaccine products available on the market so in order to achieve success with your vaccination program is important to follow a protocol (understanding why vaccination is important, which vaccines you need, appropriate age, number of required doses, time to vaccinate, etc.)

Also, keep in mind some tips on storage, and proper handling protocols to avoid some common mistakes, like incorrect administration route or improper storage. Those mistakes in vaccination programs happen frequently and can compromise the health of the herd.

Best practices

Keep in touch with your veterinarian, too. Take the time to discuss the current vaccination programs and if any health problem is occurring at this time. If possible, identify the diseases on your farm and talk about the existence, and the efficacy of vaccine for that particular problem. In case a vaccine is needed, you need to know when and how it should be administered.

Keep record of every vaccination including animal identification, date of birth, and type of vaccine used, date of administration, dosage and any comments regarding vaccination (e.g. reactions).

Your vet can also help you tailor which vaccines are necessary throughout each animal age:

  • Pre-weaned and post-weaned calves: Vaccination (e.g. scours and respiratory problems) gets them off to a strong start with support of the immune system and helping them manage disease so calves can achieve their lifetime potential.
  • Pre-breeding heifers and breeding-age heifers. At this stage, heifers need to be prepared for breeding and need to be protected against diseases that reduce fertility and cause abortions.
  • Pre-fresh heifers. This time is an extremely vulnerable time for heifers. Pre-fresh cows can have their immunity compromised by different management practices and stress.

During this period, animals are preparing themselves for calving, colostrum production and demands of next lactation, which weakens their ability to respond to disease exposure. Vaccination on pre-fresh heifers help them develop protective antibodies to boost colostrum.

Storage reminders

Place a thermometer inside your fridge and monitor temperature fluctuations.

  • Correct temperature: Unless stated differently on the label, vaccines should be kept in the refrigerator at a temperature between 35°F and 45°F. If exposed to warmer or colder temperatures, it should be discarded due to increase of vaccines failure and risk for local reactions.
  • Keep in mind the expiration date and rotate vaccine supply. When getting new vaccines, keep the old ones in front to be used first. Finish open bottles before opening a new one.
  • Keep vaccines in the center of shelves and evenly spread. Temperature can vary if vaccines are kept in the door or in the back of the refrigerator (to warm or too cold).

Also, it is important to remember that temperature change when something else is stored with vaccines (colostrum, test kits, milk samples). It is recommended that a properly functioning refrigerator is exclusively used for storing vaccines.

Vaccine handling

Be familiar with product labels. They contain descriptions of products and instructions on how to use or e.g. which category of animal that specific product is approved. All people involved in vaccination programs should understand why vaccines are necessary, and the importance of following vaccination schedules.

They should also be trained on how to properly administer vaccines.

  • Transport vaccines in a cooler with ice packs.
  • Use only a new needle into a bottle.
  • Use only recommended vaccines from your veterinarian and do not mix vaccines.
  • Wash syringes only with hot water and allow to air-dry before reassembly.
  • Needle used should be appropriate size: for intramuscular administration (1.5 inch x 18 gauge) and subcutaneous (5/8 to 1 inch x 18 gauge).

With numerous vaccines in the market today, make sure to work with your veterinarian to choose the right vaccines that will help protect your herd. Once you have a vaccination program in place, make sure you’re handling vaccines properly so your animals are successfully immunized.

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The author is an assistant professor and Extension dairy veterinarian at the Ohio State University. Send questions or comments in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.

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