Don't mistake vaccination with immunization

The goal of any vaccination program is to protect cattle from costly diseases, including respiratory and reproductive diseases. For the best chance of successful immunization, work with your veterinarian and train employees to establish and implement a vaccination program that is tailored to your herd.

"Often, dairy producers mistake vaccination with immunization," says Doug Braun, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health Dairy Veterinary Operations. "To achieve immunization, producers must choose the correct vaccine and then handle and administer it properly to help build the animal's immunity against damaging diseases."

Dr. Braun offers these key steps to ensure a successful immunization outcome:

  • Identify diseases and risk: Understanding the respiratory and reproductive disease risks - both regionally and on the individual operation - is an important first step. Producers must also assess their level of risk aversion and evaluate the cost of disease incidence to both their bottom line and their animals' well-being.

  • Proper timing: Vaccine administration should be timed to adequately establish protection before cattle are most susceptible to disease. The best time for vaccination is when nutrition is optimal, stress levels are low, ambient temperature isn't too high (greater than 85 F) and the cow or calf is primed for a positive immunological response. For effective immunity, booster as directed on the label.

  • Vaccine administration: Vaccines must be administered properly for optimum effectiveness, as well as to comply with Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) protocols. Veterinarians can offer training on best practices for intramuscular, subcutaneous or intranasal administration, and how to choose proper needle size and length.

  • Handling: Vaccines should be stored according to label indications. Since heat, freezing and extreme changes in temperature can reduce vaccine potency, vaccines must be kept cool and out of direct sunlight.

Resource information is provided compliments of Pfizer Animal Health