The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance has launched a new campaign to encourage more effective use of vaccination across the livestock industry.
The new #VaccinesWork campaign will run until the end of October, exploring the role vaccines can play in helping to protect health and welfare in all farm animal sectors, and in supporting reductions, replacements or refinements in antibiotic use. It will highlight the differences in vaccine penetration between farm animal sectors, including where there may be scope for greater uptake, as well as the gains to be made from storing, handling and administering vaccines correctly.
“Vaccination is not a ‘silver bullet’ for disease control, but it can be an important part of an infection prevention and control of disease planning process, which all farms should have in place in consultation with their vet,” said RUMA secretary general Chris Lloyd.
RUMA said the poultry and fish sectors have successfully used vaccines for a number of years within comprehensive and integrated health programmes. With considerable achievements in antibiotic stewardship under their belts, it is hoping other sectors will take inspiration from this.
Pigs have far higher uptake of vaccines than cattle and sheep, with 90% of all eligible pigs being vaccinated for Porcine Circovirus (PCV2) and around 70% for Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. Vaccination for Porcine Reproductive & Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is also common.
But AHDB Pork senior veterinary manager Mandy Nevel said, while uptake of vaccines is high, this doesn’t guarantee the vaccines will work as well as they could.
“It’s good news that vaccines are so well-used, but the number of animals involved means vaccination is not an easy job. It can be stressful to handlers and animals, leading to short cuts and poor practice.
“A failure to correctly follow storage, administration and vaccine course instructions can undermine the efficacy of the vaccine which can mean they do not work as well as they can. This may include incorrect storage temperatures – especially freezing – as well as expired use-by dates and failure to deliver the full course.
“This is why – for pigs – the #VaccinesWork campaign will be encouraging producers to look at what could be stopping them and their employees making the most of their vaccination programmes.”
In order to ensure prescribed vaccines work effectively, RUMA said it was essential that the manufacturer and prescriber’s instructions on storage, dose rate and dose interval (e.g. if repeat doses are needed) are followed accurately.
Occasionally, a disease challenge may present itself for which there is no suitable licensed vaccine. In consultation with the farm vet, laboratories can sometimes develop autogenous vaccines specific to the pathogen causing the problem on the farm. The vet may also, in some circumstances and in consultation with the regulatory authorities, be able to import a suitable vaccine from either another EU country or from outside of the EU.
To find out more about #VaccinesWork go to www.vaccineswork.org.uk, where you can also post messages of support or top tips for vaccination success, and tweet your experiences.