AAHAs New Guidelines Based on Scientific Data, Include Shelters, Provisional Vaccines

The 2006 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines, which will be released next week, support professional decisions about immunity duration, provide what could be the industry’s first shelter guidelines, include references to vaccines for snake bites and periodontal disease, and have revised terminology for core, non-core, recommended and not recommended vaccines, said Michael Paul, DVM.

“There is no longer any excuse to sit on the fence,” with regard to vaccination intervals, said Paul, a task force member. “There is enough data about the extended duration of immunity.”

The document, to be released March 1 on the AAHA website, arrives on the heels of a new publication from Banfield, The Pet Hospital, that includes recommendations for one-year and three-year vaccines.  “As an evidenced-based practice, Banfield bases all medical decisions that affect the health of their patients on solid evidence obtained from the pet population seen in their hospitals; not on opinions or beliefs or unconfirmed preliminary reports," said Scott Campbell, DVM, chairman and CEO. "Vaccination Protocols for the Pet Practitioner was prepared as a resource for Banfield doctors and captures Banfield’s current philosophy and thinking regarding Pet vaccination,” he added.

AAHA’s vaccine guidelines, a 33-page document, cite numerous published scientific reports and hundreds of footnotes along with suggested reading and individual preferences from task force members who were selected by the AAHA board for their professional acumen and experience in the field.

In what is believed to an industry first, AAHA’s 2006 Canine Vaccine Guidelines include shelter information. “We believe that this is the first time any organization has put their support behind it,” Paul said. “We felt we had to address this area of medicine. More veterinarians are getting into shelter medicine. It’s a very timely topic.”

Practitioner discretion is urged in the 2006 vaccine guidelines.

“You can give any vaccine you want at any interval you want,” said Paul, who participated in the 2003 document. However, he added, doctors who decide to give annual vaccines may have to defend their positions.

To help members understand and implement the new guidelines, AAHA will host a members-only audio conference, sponsored by Merial, on March 7, 2006.

No changes were made between the two documents regarding recommended and not recommended vaccines, said Paul. New vaccines, existing product labels and licenses that vacillate between one and three-year duration, and published scientific studies prompted the updated guidelines.