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2017 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines

The 2017 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines offers a range of recommendations that will aid veterinary teams in making rational decisions on vaccine selection for their individual patients.

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The decision to vaccinate is a balancing act between the potential risks of adverse events and an individual cat’s unique infectious-disease exposure risks. Join members of the 2020 AAHA/AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines task force to get the latest recommendations and best practices for assessing those risks.

2020 AAHA/AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines

A task force convened by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) examined the most current feline vaccination research and concluded that vaccine protocols should be tailored for individual cats’ unique lifestyles and infectious-disease exposure risks. These new guidelines encourage communication with the pet owner about how your team assesses disease risk and makes vaccine recommendations.

Summary

Vaccination protocols for cats should consist of recommended core vaccines and discretionary non-core vaccines as defined and listed in the guidelines. Vaccines in the latter category are given based on a risk-benefit assessment. Risk is determined by the patient’s life stage, lifestyle, clinical history, and health status and by environmental and epidemiologic risk factors. Although feline vaccination is universally practiced by primary care companion animal practices, there is no single protocol suitable for all feline patients. Rather, vaccination of cats should be patient specific and guided by an individual risk-benefit assessment using the criteria listed in the guidelines. In the case of some vaccines, practitioners have a choice of different types of antigens, including those that are inactivated, attenuated, and in recombinant form. The patient’s clinical and vaccination status, such as the possible presence of maternally derived immunity or a history of adverse postvaccination reactions, are factors that may influence the choice of vaccine type.

Staff and Client Education

A veterinarian should assess every patient regardless of appointment type (wellness, acute care or follow-up visit) for current vaccination status based on age and lifestyle. Informed by this assessment, an individualized patient vaccination plan should be developed or modified and then discussed and agreed upon in collaboration with the cat owner.

Creating an Individualized, Lifestyle-Based Vaccination Plan

The decision to vaccinate, even with core vaccines, should be based on a risk-benefit assessment for each cat and for each vaccine antigen. Benefits of vaccination should be balanced against the risk of adverse events, likelihood of exposure, and disease severity. Every effort should be made to ensure that cats are healthy before vaccination. However, concurrent illness (including retroviral infections) does not necessarily preclude vaccination.

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