key points


Vaccination saves lives!

  • Vaccination upon intake is mandatory for effective infection and disease control. With Canine Parvovirus and Feline Panleukopenia (feline distemper) in particular, some protection can be acheived in as little as three days!
  • In Developing a Vaccination Program:

    • Assume infectious disease exposure has already occurred.
    • Assume that puppies and kittens are at considerably more risk than adults due to maternal protection interference and immature immune systems.
    • Assume that healthy littermates and healthy-appearing adults can be the critical reservoir of infection for puppies and kittens.
    • Assume that vaccination will not preclude outbreaks of infectious disease but may still be an effective tool in outbreak management.
    • Core vaccines are those recommended for administration to every dog and cat during the intake process. Limiting vaccines to core components reduces the incidence of adverse reactions. Additional vaccines may be used in special circumstances such as an Animal Centre with a higher than normal incidence of a specific disease (e.g. outbreak of Leptospirosis in the community).

    ALL dogs and cats should be vaccinated immediately as part of the intake process. Failing to immediately vaccinate an animal upon arrival could compromise an effective disease prevention program. This can lead to a shelter-wide outbreak of an infectious disease. Exceptions to this rule must be discussed with a supervisor or Shelter Health and Wellness personnel.

    For adult animals, a repeat dose of the core vaccines should be given 14-21 days later. If proof of prior vaccination is available such as name of product, manufacturer name, serial/lot number, date vaccine was administered (at least month and year), expiration date of vaccine administered, and signature of a licensed veterinarian, then a second dose is not required.

    Puppies and kittens should be vaccinated as early as 4 weeks of age. Repeat vaccines should be given every two weeks until 18 weeks of age.

    Pregnant animals may be vaccinated upon intake. The benefits of vaccinating using MLV far outweighs any risks posed to the animals.

    Modified-live agent products should be used in most animals. The rapid onset of protection and the ability to better overcome maternal antibodies is beneficial in puppies and kittens.

    Handling and Storage. All vaccines must be kept refrigerated until use. If the liquid component used to reconstitute the vaccine is sterile water, it may be kept at room temperature. If the reconstituted vaccine is to be kept out for more than 15 minutes, the tray should be kept on an ice pack in a cooler. The vaccine components can be refrigerated once more if allowed to come to room temperature. Once a vaccine has been mixed, it must be used within 30 minutes or else discarded.

    Vaccine Preparation. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for preparing the vaccine. Use a 22G ¾ inch needle with a 3 ml Luer-lock type syringe for most animals. A 25G ¾ inch needle may be used when vaccinating small kittens and puppies. Only use one vaccine per single-use syringe and needle. Use the diluent provided by the manufacturer. When reconstituting the vaccine, make sure that it is completely dissolved before being drawn into the syringe. Always follow correct syringe and needle handling guidelines if recapping the needle is necessary, e.g. for use with an intranasal vaccine where the needle must be removed from the syringe before administering to the animal.

    Administration. All vaccines should be administered by the route designated by the manufacturer. If injection is incomplete and an undetermined amount is spilled/wasted, then it is safe and recommended to revaccinate. If an injectable vaccine is spilled, the spill should be cleaned off the animal’s fur with an alcohol swab. Use accelerated hydrogen peroxide (e.g. Prevail or Peroxigard Plus) , potassium peroxymonosulfate (e.g. Virkon®, Trifectant®) for table tops, etc.