NEW! Veterinarian’s Corner: Guidelines for Proper Vaccine Handling – Dr. Kevin Ratka, Vita Plus

Posted on April 20, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Kevin Ratka, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Vaccination protocols are very important to maintain the health and productivity of each herd.  A considerable amount of time is spent discussing and analyzing which vaccines should be used and when is the optimal time to use each vaccine to achieve maximal immunity.  However, sometimes the basics of vaccine handling and storage get overlooked, leading to poor response to the vaccine and putting herds at risk for disease.  Here are some of the basic guidelines to ensure optimal results.

Storage and handling
Keep vaccines refrigerated at the proper temperature until used and regularly check the refrigerator temperature to ensure it’s maintained at 35 to 45 degrees F.  Avoid storing vaccines in the door of the refrigerator as this leads to greater temperature fluctuations.  Vaccines must be stored according to label directions and should not be used if they freeze or are exposed to high temperatures. Freezing or overheating disrupts the integrity of vaccine antigens and may degrade vaccine adjuvants.  Use an insulated cooler and multiple ice packs to transport vaccines to work cattle.  Also avoid direct sunlight because ultraviolet rays can impair vaccines’ effectiveness, especially modified live vaccines.

Follow the label
Always read vaccine labels before use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use. The product label includes information about dosage, route of administration, mixing instructions (if applicable), storage requirements and the need for booster doses. Specific requirements and/or restrictions regarding use of the vaccine are also provided.  Monitor the expiration dates listed on the vaccine.  If it is outdated, it will likely be ineffective and should not be used.

Administer a booster dose if required.  Failing to administer the second dose of a two-dose regimen undermines product effectiveness because many vaccines require a booster dose to achieve peak levels of immunity. For the vaccine to work properly, two doses must be administered and, equally important, the timing of administration must be in compliance with the label-recommended schedule.  Always consult with your veterinarian if you have questions pertaining to the label instructions.

Working cattle
When working cattle, keep vaccines in an insulated cooler in the shade with the lid closed to minimize exposure to sunlight and dust contamination.  Mix only enough vaccine that will be administered within one hour.  Equipment used for mixing and drawing vaccines out of a bottle must be clean and sterile. Even small amounts of disinfectant can inactivate modified live vaccines and harsh disinfectants may break down the antigens in inactivated vaccines. Thus, syringes must be new or clean and free of disinfectant residue. If a disinfectant is used at the end of a vaccination session, thorough rinsing with sterile water is required to remove all traces of the disinfecting agent.  When multiple vaccines are given at the same time, the syringes for each vaccine should be identified and kept separate.

Following these basic guidelines will ensure effectiveness of the vaccine and allow your herd to achieve maximal immunity.  If you have any questions or concerns about a vaccine, consult your veterinarian.

Category: Animal health
Starting Strong - Calf Care