Vaccines–Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo

There is much confusion in the general public about the duration of immunity of canine vaccines. Below is a copy of my testimony and model disclosure submitted to Maine's Agriculture Committee in support of LD 429, the nation's first pet vaccine disclosure legislation, which was introduced on my behalf by Representative Peter Rines of Wiscasset. Anyone who wishes to have copies of the attachments referenced below, please e-mail me at


February 27, 2005

TO: The Agriculture, Conservation and Forest Committee

RE: LD 429, An Act to Require Veterinarians to Provide Vaccine Disclosure Forms

My name is Kris Christine and I live with my family in Maine. Before I begin my testimony, I’d like to advise the committee that one of the world’s leading veterinary research scientists, Dr. W. Jean Dodds, wanted to be here today to testify in support of LD429, but could not do so because of prior commitments. With her permission, in the attachments to my testimony, I have included her letter to Representative Peter Rines dated February 17, 2005 (Attachment 5) resolutely endorsing this first-in-the-nation veterinary vaccine disclosure legislation.

I am here today to respectfully urge this committee to recommend passage of LD429 – An Act to Require Veterinarians to Provide Vaccine Disclosure Forms because pet owners need the scientifically proven durations of immunity (how long vaccines are effective for) in order to make informed medical choices for their animals.

Many Maine veterinarians have failed to inform clients that most core veterinary vaccines protect for seven or more years, and pet owners, unaware that their animals don’t need booster vaccinations more often, have unwittingly given their companions useless booster shots – taking an unnecessary toll on their finances and animals’ health. The human equivalent would be physicians vaccinating patients against tetanus once every year, two years, or three years and not disclosing that the vaccines are known to be protective for 10 years.

For years veterinarians have sent pet owners annual, biennial and triennial reminders for redundant booster shots and justified it with vaccine manufacturers’ labeled recommendations. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Principles of Vaccination (Attachment 6), “..revaccination frequency recommendations found on many vaccine labels is based on historical precedent, not on scientific data … [and] does not resolve the question about average or maximum duration of immunity [Page 2] and..may fail to adequately inform practitioners about optimal use of the product…[Page 4] .” As the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital states it: “…booster vaccine recommendations for vaccines other than rabies virus have been determined arbitrarily by manufacturers.”

Dr. Ronald Schultz, Chairman of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, is at the forefront of vaccine research and is one of the world’s leading authorities on veterinary vaccines. His challenge study results form the scientific base of the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature (Attachment 7). These studies are based on science – they are not arbitrary. The public, however, cannot access this data. The American Animal Hospital Association only makes this report available to veterinarians, not private citizens, and Maine’s pet owners are unaware that the AAHA Guidelines state on Page 18 that: “We now know that booster injections are of no value in dogs already immune, and immunity from distemper infection and vaccination lasts for a minimum of 7 years based on challenge studies and up to 15 years (a lifetime) based on antibody titer.” They further state that hepatitis and parvovirus vaccines have been proven to protect for a minimum of 7 years by challenge and up to 9 and 10 years based on antibody count. So, unless the Legislature passes LD429 requiring veterinarians to provide vaccine disclosure forms, dog owners who receive an annual, biennial, or triennial reminders for booster shots will not know that nationally-accepted scientific studies have demonstrated that animals are protected a minimum of 7 years after vaccination with the distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus-2 vaccines (see Page 12 AAHA 2003 Guidelines attached, and Table 1, Pages 3 and 4).

"My own pets are vaccinated once or twice as pups and kittens, then never again except for rabies,” Wall Street Journal reporter Rhonda L. Rundle quoted Dr. Ronald Schultz in a July 31, 2002 article entitled Annual Pet Vaccinations may be Unnecessary, Fatal (Attachment 2). Dr. Schultz knows something the pet-owning public doesn’t – he knows there’s no benefit in overvaccinating animals because immunity is not enhanced, but the risk of harmful adverse reactions is increased. He also knows that most core veterinary vaccines are protective for at least seven years, if not for the lifetime of the animal.

The first entry under Appendix 2 of the AAHA Guidelines (Attachment 7) “Important Vaccination ‘Do’s and Don’ts” is “Do Not Vaccinate Needlessly – Don’t revaccinate more often than is needed and only with the vaccines that prevent diseases for which that animal is at risk.” They also caution veterinarians: “Do Not Assume that Vaccines Cannot Harm a Patient – Vaccines are potent medically active agents and have the very real potential of producing adverse events.” Very few pet owners have had this disclosed to them.

The AVMA’s Principles of Vaccination (Attachment 6) states that “Unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance, and may increase the risk of adverse post-vaccination events.” (page 2) They elaborate by reporting that: “**Possible adverse events include failure to immunize, anaphylaxis, immunosuppression, autoimmune disorders, transient infections, and/or long-term infected carrier states. In addition, a causal association in cats between injection sites and the subsequent development of a malignant tumor is the subject of ongoing research.”(**Page 2)

Referring to adverse reactions from vaccines, the Wall Street Journal article cited above (Attachment 2) reports: “In cats there has been a large increase in hyperthyroidism and cancerous tumors between the shoulder blades where vaccines typically are injected.” With modified live virus vaccines (distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis), some animals can actually contract the same disease which they are being inoculated against. If the public knew an animal’s immunity to disease is not increased by overvaccination, they would certainly not consent to expose their pets to potential harm by giving them excessive booster shots.

Veterinary vaccines are potent biologic drugs – most having proven durations of immunity much longer than the annual, biennial or triennial booster frequencies recommended by vaccine manufacturers and veterinarians. They also carry the very real risk of serious adverse side affects and should not be administered more often than necessary to maintain immunity.

The extended durations of immunity for vaccines is not “new” or “recent” science as some members of the Maine Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) have claimed. AAHA reveals on Page 2 of their Guidelines that ideal reduced vaccination protocols were recommended by vaccinology experts beginning in 1978. A Veterinary Practice News article entitled “Managing Vaccine Changes” (Attachment 3) by veterinarian Dennis M. McCurnin, reports that: “Change has been discussed for the past 15 years and now has started to move across the country."

According to a September 1, 2004 article in the DVM veterinary news magazine (Attachment 1), the 312 member Maine Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) “champions full disclosure of vaccine information to pet owners.” MVMA president, Dr. Bill Bryant, is quoted as stating: “Its time for something like this to come out … disclosure forms will be an important resource to have available, [and] if it goes before the Legislature, we’d likely support it.”

It is time. Pet owners have the right to know the scientifically proven durations of immunity for the veterinary vaccines given their animals, as well as the potential adverse side effects and benefits. LD 429 would make that standardized information available to all pet owners.

Respectfully submitted,
Kris L. Christine

(continued below)

(continued from above)


Prepared by Kris L. Christine

Vaccines have played a significant role in enabling animals to live longer and healthier lives. Thorough evaluations of the risks of the disease, and those potentially associated with the vaccine, compared to the benefits of vaccination for the patient, are necessary in crafting optimal health recommendations that include vaccination.

The proper application of vaccines to animal populations has enhanced their health and welfare, and prolonged their life-spans. The risks to animal health from non-vaccination are significant. However, vaccination is a potent medical procedure associated with both benefits and risks for the patient. Adverse events, including some that are potentially severe, can be unintended consequences of vaccination. Because vaccinating an animal which is already immune to a disease does not increase their immunity, but does expose them to the risk of adverse reactions, it is important to avoid overvaccination. Blood titers can help determine whether an animal’s antibody count is at protective levels.

The risks associated with the core canine diseases are as follows:

1. Distemper – high rates of morbidity and mortality from respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological abnormalities; a widespread disease

2. Parvovirus – high rates of morbidity and mortality resulting primarily from gastrointestinal disease; this disease has worldwide distribution;

3. Canine Adenovirus – high rates of morbidity and mortality from liver dysfunction

4. Rabies – nearly universally fatal neurological disease. Infected animals are a potential source for human infection, thus vaccination is mandated by law in most states.

The risks associated with vaccination are as follows:

Possible adverse events from vaccination include failure to immunize, anaphylaxis, immunosuppression, autoimmune disorders such as hyper/hypothyroidism, polyarthritis, allergies, transient infections, and/or long-term infected carrier states. In addition, a causal association in cats between injection sites and the subsequent development of a malignant tumor is the subject of ongoing research.

Optimal immune responses are obtained by vaccines administered singly three to four weeks apart rather than in combination shots. Single vaccine administration also reduces the likelihood of adverse events as well as increasing the animal’s immune response. Only healthy animals should be vaccinated.

Except for the rabies vaccine, manufacturers’ labeled revaccination recommendations are based on limited scientific data and do not contain information on the vaccine’s maximum duration of immunity. The tables below contain the minimum duration of immunity data from the canine vaccine studies performed by Dr. Ronald Schultz, Professor and Chair of the Pathobiological Sciences Department at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, which form the scientific base of the American Animal Hospital’s 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature.

If your animal experiences any of the following symptoms after vaccination, you should contact your veterinary care provider immediately: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, uncontrollable trembling, lack of coordination, seizures or a hard lump at the vaccination site which doesn’t disappear after a couple of weeks.

Table 1: Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines

Vaccine Minimum Duration Methods Used to

Of Immunity Determine Immunity

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)

Rockborn Strain 7 years/15 years challenge/serology
Onderstepoort Strain 5 years/9 years challenge/serology

Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2) 7 years/9 years challenge-CAV-1/serology
Canine Parvovirus-2 (CPV-2) 7 years challenge/serology

Canine Rabies 3 years/7 years challenge/serology

Data from Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What we know and Don’t Know by Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

Note: Challenge studies are those in which an animal is vaccinated, isolated for a number of years, and then injected with high doses of virulent virus to test its immunity to disease. Serology is the method of counting antibody levels in the blood to determine an animal’s immunity.

Rabies Shot Killed my Poodle May 28, 2008 Channel 5 News WCVB

Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and Don't Know, Dr. Ronald Schultz

What Everyone Needs to Know about Canine Vaccines, Dr. Ronald Schultz

World Small Animal Veterinary Association 2007 Vaccine Guidelines Scroll down to Vaccine Guidelines 2007 (PDF)

The 2003 American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines are accessible online at .

The 2006 American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines are downloadable in PDF format at…s06Revised.pdf .

Veterinarian, Dr. Robert Rogers,has an excellent presentation on veterinary vaccines at

October 1, 2002 DVM Newsletter article entitled, AVMA, AAHA to Release Vaccine Positions,

July 1, 2003 DVM Newsletter article entitled, What Do We Tell Our Clients?, Developing thorough plan to educate staff on changing vaccine protocols essential for maintaining solid relationships with clients and ensuring quality care

July 1, 2003, DVM Newsletter article, Developing Common Sense Strategies for Fiscal Responsibility: Using an interactive template to plan service protocol changes

Animal Wellness Magazine Article Vol. 8 Issue 6, How Often Does he REALLY Need A Rabies Shot Animal Wellness Magazine - devoted to natural health in animals

The Rabies Challenge Animal Wise Radio Interview
Listen to Animal Wise (scroll down to The Rabies Challenge 12/9/07)

The Vaccine Challenge Animal Talk Naturally Online Radio Show » The Vaccine Challenge - Show #91

US Declared Canine-Rabies Free – CDC Announces at Inaugural World Rabies Day Symposium CDC Press Release - September 7, 2007

Rabies Prevention – United States, 1991 Recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP), Center for Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly March 22, 1991 / 40(RR03);1-19 "A fully vaccinated dog or cat is unlikely to become infected with rabies, although rare cases have been reported (48). In a nationwide study of rabies among dogs and cats in 1988, only one dog and two cats that were vaccinated contracted rabies (49). All three of these animals had received only single doses of vaccine; no documented vaccine failures occurred among dogs or cats that had received two vaccinations. "

Holistic Vet Advocates Alternative Pet Care
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 By Susan Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"I think poor nutrition is responsible for a majority of the chronic
disease we see in animals, and [too many] vaccines are a close second."

"When it comes to vaccines, he's of the unwavering opinion that they
are given too often, sometimes causing long-term effects that may not
be immediately apparent. Certain cancers have been linked to vaccines,
and it is thought some autoimmune problems and perhaps seizure
disorders are also triggered by boosters. "

There is an interesting article on veterinary vaccines which you can read in its entirety at the link below.

Are Our Pets Being Overvaccinated, by Melissa Burden, The Press

(Dr. W. Jean Dodds) “But there is really no breed that is not at risk,” she said. The only vaccination needed, she asserts, is the rabies vaccine because it is legally required. Dogs’ and cats’ immune systems mature fully at 6 months old, she explained. If canine distemper, feline distemper and parvovirus vaccines are given after 6 months, a pet has immunity for the rest of its life.

(Dr. Robert Rogers) “Dogs and cats no longer need to be vaccinated against distemper, parvo, and feline leukemia every year,” Rogers said. “Once the initial series of puppy or kitten vaccinations and first annual vaccinations are completed, immunity…persists for life. Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to the potential risk of adverse reactions, he added.

WHAT(no disrespect) ? this is way to much to read right now. Can i have a summary?

I wish this was more understandable. I feel that my vet (im not to happy with) has me paying $100 3very vist for the last 1.5 years ive had my pup!

I dont know whats wrong and whats right for her so i have no choice but to trust them.

what is the run down. what shots should a new puppy get on a annual basis etc.

3 month
1 year
2 year etc.

that would be very helpful. 🙂

IMO, and you all will correct me if I am wrong, laugh, I only give the 2 series of puppy shots, rabies as its law but I hate doing that and after the b's are grown, I only do blood titers.
I have had to give NO annual shots since the basic shots were on board.
Have you vet do a titer and then you will know what the dog needs.

This is what I do for mine….

9wks - 1st set of puppy shots (no Lepto, no Corona) I use DHPP
11wks - 2nd set of puppy shots (same as above)
13 wks - 3rd set of puppy shots (same as above)

16 wks - Rabies

I do not give anything for kennel cough, as there are so many strains that likely that they will still get it if an outbreak.. (of course if you board or use a doggy daycare, you are required to give it)


After that either every 3yrs or do Titers (except Rabies which is every 3yrs and required by law)

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.