I recently attended a veterinary vaccine program and was able to have many of my questions answered. For example, I have always wondered why 1 cc of vaccine was considered suitable for every dog, no matter what the size – from a ½ pound Chihuahua puppy to a 150 pound Great Dane. How is it possible that the same dose is appropriate?
Several years ago I had asked a vaccine company veterinarian this question. The response I got was that despite the difference in animal weight, their immune systems were the same size. I asked myself, “How is that even possible?” That was definitely a worthless answer.
My concern over dose of vaccine per pound of dog was heightened by a 2005 study. It found that vaccine adverse events increase as the weight of the dog decreases. In other words, small dogs (those receiving a higher dose of vaccine per pound) have more adverse events. All I can say is, “Duh!”
The Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) vaccine company program was very informative. I got to talk to the researchers who actually make vaccines and ask them the hard questions.
As to the dose of vaccine, the first point the speaker made was that the antigen portion of the vaccine makes up only 1/1013 of the total volume. That’s 0.0001 parts per billion – equivalent to 1 drop in the amount of water carried by 1,000 tanker trucks each carrying 80,000 gallons!
Apparently, a tiny amount of modified live antigen has a strong effect on the immune system. So when I’m talking about dose of vaccine, it may not be the antigen that’s important but rather all the other stuff (contaminants, preservatives, adjuvants, etc.) that’s in there.
The second point the speaker made was that there is a certain minimum volume of fluid needed to distribute the antigen into the subcutaneous tissue so the immune system reacts adequately. He knows this because BI has actually pioneered technology to filter out extraneous materials from their vaccines and have gotten the volume down to ½ cc per vaccine. In the process, they have made vaccines that cause 10 times fewer adverse events. (Of course we’re still giving the same amount to every sized dog).
I am definitely a minimalist when it comes to vaccines. Some are necessary but only those needed based on the animal’s lifestyle. Of course, I take all industry-sponsored “informational” programs with a grain of salt. But, I have to say that I feel good about switching to the BI vaccines.
More about vaccines next week.
Have any of your pets had problems with vaccines?