What The Vets Don't Tell you About Vaccines!!
By Catherine O'Driscoll (Printed in TNT Magazine)
This is a subject I have researched in depth- the results
of this research are carried in the book, 'What Vets Don't Tell You About Vaccines'. Before I start, I want to make one thing
totally clear. I am not asking you to stop vaccinating your beloved animals. I don't believe that any human being has the
right to dictate that sort of thing to another human being. However, I do believe that you have the right to the facts so
that you can make an informed choice
The first fact is this: Annual vaccination is fraud. Strong stuff, eh? There is absolutely no scientific basis for
annual vaccination. It was just a practice that was started many years ago, probably because the shots weren't working and
someone had the bright idea to kekep repeating it in case it helped. In fact, we have discovered that, far from helping, annual
vaccination is destroying our animals' immune systems. This is widely known in scientific circles - but vets are reluctant
to look at the evidence too closely die to potential lost booster income. I am sorry to say this but long years of campaigning
allow me to develop no othe conclusion. The vets who have read my book they take it very seriously. However, most refuse to
"Once immunity to a virus exists,
it persists for years or life." Dr. Donald D. Schultz, head of patholbiology at Wisconsin University. My own six-year-old
Golden Retriever - Gwinnie -gives a good example of this. Gwinnie was vaccinated ONLY as a puppy. We got her when she was
five months old, already vaccinated. She was never vaccinated again. Last year, at the age of six, Gwinnie had a blood test
and this revealed that she still has high antibody levels to distemper and parvo. The advice from Professor Hal Thomson at
Glasgow University was "no need to revacciate." After SIX years.
Dr Jean Dodds in America has just completed study that shows much the same thing. You don't NEED to keep vaccinating your
dogs. There is one exception, and this is the leptospirosis component of the vaccine. Lepto is a bacteria, not a virus, and
you can't get permanent immunity to a bacteria. However, the vaccine has been described as useless and there have been many
calls for it to be withdrawn from the market. There are hundreds of strains of leptospirosis, but only two in vaccine, AND
it provides immunity (if at all) for only between three and six months. This means that your dog is probably unprotected against
the two strains for around nine months of the year, and against all the other hundreds of strains for ever. Australian research
shows that the lepto component of vaccines can cause horrendous side-effects, so top veterinary immunologists, microbiologists
and pathobiologists have advised we don't use it.
Vaccines can cause a whole range of diseases.
problems: Frock and Brooks, in 1983, showed that dogs who were genetically susceptible to develop atopic dermatitis ONLY
contracted the conditions IF they were vaccinated before being exposed to an allergen. So -vaccines trigger skin disease.
Arthritis: there are many, many sudies which show that vaccines
can cause arthritis. Vaccine components have even been found in the bones of arthritis sufferers.
Cancer: Vaccine components have been found at the cancer sites of victims.
Worse, they have been found at the cancer sites of the CHILDREN of the people who received the guilty vaccine. In other words,
vaccines can cause inheritable cancer.
Dr Jean Dodds has linked leukemia to vaccines. Also, Merck, a vaccine manufacturer, has linked leukemia to a leukemia-like
retrovirus found in birds. Merck was investigating the link between this retrovirus and the eggs they cultivated the measles
vaccine on. Distemper and measles are virtually the same virus, and both vaccines are cultivated on chick embryos.
Aggression: Vaccines are acknowledged to cause inflammation
of the brain and, in severe cases, lesions in the brain and throughout the central nervous system. This condition, known as
encephalitis, lies at the root of much aggressive and violent behavior, autism, epilepsy, attention deficit disorder, and
other neurological conditions (for example, CDRM, Ataxia, ect.).
Autoimmune disease: It is widely acknowledged that vaccines can cause a whole range of autoimmune diseases, such as
Cushings disease, Addisons disease, thyroid disease, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and many others.
The scientific evidence is there for anyone who wants to look at it. Dr. Larry
Glickman at Purdue University has found that routinely vaccinated dogs develop auto antibodies to a wide range of their own
biochemicals. This means that vaccines cause dogs to attack their own bodies - which is what autoimmune disease is all about.
Some animals are genetically predisposed to suffer fatal reactions to vaccines, or to develop vaccine-induced disease. The
Merck Manual (the doctors bible, published by a vaccine manufacturer) says that children with B and/or T cell immune deficiencies
should not receive live virus vaccines as the vaccine can stimulate a severe or FATAL infection. Not to put too fine a point
on it, 'fatal' means death. Merck explains that features of B and T cell immune deficiencies include eczema, dermatitis, heart
disease, inhalant allergies, food allergies and neurological conditions. They say that humans suffering with any of these
conditions, or from families with these conditions, should not receive live virus vaccines because the vaccine can kill them.
Our dogs also have B and T cells, and B and T cell immune deficiencies. So if your dog has allergies, or heart problems, or
neurological problems . . . . . .vaccines represent a life threatening risk.
Vaccines cause more diseases than they prevent. This is the one the scientists are currently arguing about. You can probably
guess which way I've fallen on the debate. In my humble opinion, vaccination is probably the worst thing we can do for someone
we love. Obviously, this is a scary statement. Let me tell you a little about why I'm here saying this to you. Oliver, a beautiful
Golden Retriever, lost the use of his back legs one day when he was four years old. We rushed hm to the vet but he was dead
by four that afternoon. For two years, I asked every vet I met 'why?' No one could tell me until I met a homeopathic vet called
Chris Day, and he asked me when Ollie had last been vaccinated. He told me it was a classis vaccine reaction, failing within
three months of the shot. Since then I have met many people whose dogs died in exactly the same way. Prudence, another Golden
Retriever, died of leukemia when she was six. The last time I vaccinated her, her eyes rolled in her sockets, and she climbed
up on my back, begging me not to have it done. But we carried on because I thought it was good for her. Distemper and parvo
are horrible diseases, of course - but so is leukemia. You don't want to see a dog die this way. Samson's back legs were paralyzed
the day after his second puppy shot. I thought maybe someone had put poison down because I didn't know vaccines could do this.
The next year he was boosted, and his head swelled up like a football and he ran around screaming - I now know that this was
a massive allergic reaction to the vaccine. At the age of two we had a blood test done, and it came back autoimmune disease.
He died of cancer at the age of five. Having studied the scientifuc evidence, I know that Sammie was killed the day a vaccine
destroyed his immune system. Edward and Daniel are three-year-old Golden Retrievers. Neither has ever been vaccinated. Not
once. They are the healthiest two Goldens I have ever had the privilege to share my life with. No sickness, no diarrhea, no
allergies, no illness. The vet doesn't know who they are - they have only ever visited to have their blood tested (both have
antibodies to distemper and parvo......which means they've met the diseases but not succumbed). They also went to the
vets a few weeks ago to have ticks removed. The vet remarked on how fit and healthy they were. But that's it - their entire
veterinary history at the age of three. Compare this with Samson's veterinary history! I was literally at the vet every two
weeks with Sammie. Edward and Daniel are fed real food -raw meaty bones, vegetables, etc. This means that they have optimal
immune systems, so they are in a good position to fight any viruses or bacterias that come along. They also receive the homeopathic
vaccine alternative. When they were nine months old, my older vaccinated dogs contracted kennel cough. My two homeopathically
protected pups didn't cough once. A few days ago on the CHC discussion list, one of our members reported meeting two 17 year
old Golden Retrievers on the beach. Both ran and jumped around like young ones. The owner told her that they had never been
vaccinated and, as he was a butcher, he had fed them raw meat. Seven years into the campaign, we are beginning to see the
results of not vaccinating and feeding real food. Canine Health Concern members are now constantlyl reporting that their dogs
are incredibly healthy, and those who show are winning at all the shows.
Don't blame the 'irresponsible breeders' - blame vaccines. Without vaccines, you too can hope for long-lived friends who get
through their lives without the crippling debilitating diseases that have become common in the dog population.
One last fact: Vaccines don't offer GUARANTEED
immunity. Nearly all of the dogs in the CHC vaccine survey -which involved over 4,000 dogs and is still ongoing - contracted
distemper, parvo, lepto, hepatitis, etc, within three months of being vaccinated.
I know this article is going to upset many people and I apologize for this. My motivation is that you don't have to sit and
watch your beloved friends die years before their time, or suffer from any of the many vaccine-induced diseases. We ar making
a terrible mistake on behalf of our animal friends. What we think is best for them is in fact the worst thing we can do. I
am not alone in saying this --the very top veterinary specialists agree. We just need to get the other vets up to date. I
promise you this - annual vaccination is coming to an end. We will look back in horror at what we used to do !!!
NEW!!! VACCINATION PROTOCOL
by DR. Dodd
of the 27 Vet Universities in the US have followed the immunization protocol as suggested by Dr. Dodd for years. All of these
Hospitals will be changing their Vaccination Programs apparently. This is welcome news and you should print this out and take
it with you to your Vet should you need reinforcement against over-vaccination.
VACCINATION NEWSFLASH [CIMDA support] RE; J DODDS VACCINE PROTOCOL
I would like to make you aware that all 27 veterinary schools in North
America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating dogs and cats.
Some of this information will present an ethical & economic challenge
to Vets, and there will be skeptics. Some organizations have come up with a political compromise suggesting vaccinations every
3 years to appease those who fear loss of income vs. those concerned about potential side effects. Politics, traditions, or
the doctors economic well-being should not be a factor in a medical decision.
NEW PRINCIPLES OF IMMUNOLOGY
Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus vaccine is given
after 6 months of age, it produces immunity, which is good for the life of the pet (i.e.: canine distemper, parvo, feline
distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of
the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory cells induced.
Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential
risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated haemolytic anemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims
for annual administration of MLV vaccines.
Puppies receive antibodies through their mothers milk. This natural protection can last 8 - 14 weeks.
Puppies & kittens should NOT be vaccinated at LESS than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little
protection (0-38%) will be produced.
Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, DELAY the timing of the first highly effective vaccine.
Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart SUPPRESS rather than stimulate the immune system.
A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of
Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at l year 4 mo) will provide LIFETIME
Important vaccine legislation is pending in Maine which is the FIRST IN THE NATION and will require veterinarians
to provide vaccine disclosure forms to pet owners BEFORE they vaccinate their animals (cats and dogs). The bill, LD 429, An
Act to Require Veterinarians to Provide Vaccine Disclosure Forms
has been introduced on my behalf by Representative Peter Rines of Wiscasset and has been vigorously opposed by the
Maine Veterinary Medical Association and its members at the public hearing of February 28th. If this legislation passes, it
is only a matter of time before other stats follow suit. Already pet owners in CT, PA, FL, MO, MN, RI, WI and TX expressing
interest in filing similar bills in their states, and AB263 is currently pending in Nevada http://www.leg.state.nv.us/73rd/Reports/history.cfm?ID=1803 (contact Abigail Richlin-Schwartz at
Also, Texas whistleblowing veterinarian, Dr. Robert Rogers, begun the process for
launching a class action lawsuit "arising from the misrepresentation of the need for pet vaccinations"--click on the
floowing link for more details and updates: http://www.dogsadversereactions.com/classaction.html.
If you support LD 429 and wish to help in the effort to get it passed, please send your
local Representative (find your representative's contact information by town at http://janus.state.me.us/house/townlist.htm).and Senator (find your senator's contact information by town at http//www.state.me.us/legis/senate/senators/directory/index.htm)an e-mail telling them that you support LD 429, An Act to Require Veterinarians to Provide Vaccine Disclosure Forms. Concerned pet owners from out-of-state can e-mail LD 429's legislative sponsors at:firstname.lastname@example.org;RepCarol.Grose@legislature.maine.gov ; RepRobert.Duplessie@legislature.maine.gov ; GCforLeg@yahoo.com ;
email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
This small amount of effort will make an enormous difference (please
ask any of your friends or acquaintances to do the same).
Below is the first in a series of timely articles on pet vaccinations appearing
in the current issue of Animal Wellness Magazine. In the article, they extensively quote Dr Ronald Schultz, Chair and
Professor of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, whose challenge studies
form the base of the American Animal Hospital Association's 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines.
Anyone wishing to have a copy of the AAHA Guidelines,
please e-mail me and I will send them along as an attachment. The following are quotes from
the article that I found especially interesting and once again illustrates why Representative Rines' LD 429, An Act to Require
Veterinarians to Provide Vaccine Disclosure Forms is so important to Maine's pet owners--they simply will not have access
to this information otherwise. You might also want to acces Dr. Robert Rogers' website presentation
on Veterinary vaccines at
Regards, Kris Christine
"I have studies that show duration of immunity at seven to nine years for all the core
vaccines except rabies, and even on an antibody basis I can show that rabies gives much longer protection that three years,"
says Dr. Schultz.
Although AAHA recommends vaccinating against distemper every three years after the initial
puppy shots, challenge studies have shown that the minimum duration of immunity can last five to seven years, and perhaps
even longer. In fact, titers have indicated that dogs can be protected for nine to 15 years. "To be honest, although canine
distemper is a core vaccine, I think a dog only needs to receive it once in his life," says Dr. Schultz. "The same goes for
canine parvo and adenovirus-2. That's the vaccination program I"ve been practicing on my own dogs without any difficulty whatsoever.
We've never had a vaccine-preventable disease occur."
"Challenge studies indicate that a vaccinated kitten can remain protected from feline parvo
for eight years."
For more information on Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcomas from the American Veterinary Medical
Association and why it is so important to have enough information so you do not overvaccinate your pet, click on this
Whick ones do they REALLY
NEED, and HOW OFTEN?
by Ann Brightman
When Helena took her new Sheltie puppy, Mick, to the vet for his first check-up, she
felt more than a little anxious when it came time for him to receive his shots. While she wanted to protect her new friend
from deadly diseases like distemper and parvo, she was also concerned about the health risks associated with over-vaccination.
Although Helena went ahead with the vaccines and follow-up boosters, she was worried about subjecting Mick to sebsequent annual
shots, even though her vet told her she was risking her dog's health even more by not doing so.
It's a common quandary these days, especially as we hear more and more about the often
devastating side effects of over-vaccination. How do we prevent our dogs and cats from contracting infectious diseases that
can often be fatal, while also protecting them from the equally serious health consequences of too many shots? The
best strategy is to learn which vaccines are absolutely necessary (referred to as core vaccines), why they're needed, and
what the minimum requirements are for each to ensure protection from disease without over-vaccinating.
WHAT ARE CORE VACCINES?
"Core vaccines are those that every
dog or cat should receive, regardless of geographic location or lifestyle," says Dr. Ron Schultz, Professor and Chair of the
Department of Pathological Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Veterinary Medicine. For dogs, the four
core vaccines are canine distemper(CDV),
canine parvovirus-2 (CPV-2), canine adenovirus-2
(CAV-2) and rabies. Those for cats are feline panleukopenia or parvovirus (FPV), feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1), also referred
to as feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus (FCV) and rabies. In this article, the first in a three-part series,
we'll be taking a close-up look at canine distemper, feline panleukopenia and rabies.
The eight vaccinations listed above are considered core because the dieases they protect against
are distributed over a wide area and have a high mortality rate. "These vaccinations are absolutely necessary," says Dr. Schultz.
"You want the vaccine to be the first antigens to prime the immune system. You don't want to leave
it up to natural immunization and exposure." This is because, when compared to the actual disease-causing virus, the vaccine
is a safer way to protect the animal. ""If the vaccine is live, it's attenuated. It it's killed, it can't cause disease,"
explains Dr. Schultz. "It's true that many puppies that never see a vet get naturally immunized by exposure to distemper,
as an example, but for every one that gets vaccinated, probably another would have died if the first encounter with distemper
occurred prior to vaccination."
Although core vaccines are necessary
to protect your companion from infectious disease, even these do not need to be given on an annual basis. "That's what we're
trying to change," says Dr. Schultz. "What we recommend is that both puppies and kittens get the core vaccines at least once
at or over the age of 12 weeks." The 12 weeks is significant, because prior to that, may animals still have passive maternal
antibodies that block immunization, which means they may not respond to the vaccine and therefore unprotected against the
disease. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines recommend vaccinating again at one year, and once every three
years after that, although even that may not be necessary. "I have studies that show duration of immunity at seven to nine
years for all the core vaccines except rabies, and even on an antibody basis I can show that rabies gives much longer protection
that three years," says Dr. Schultz.
CANINE DISTEMPER (CDV)
CDV is a highly infectious and often
fatal disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. Although dogs of any age can contract
distemper, puppies up to six months of age are most susceptible to the disease, which can cause a range of symptoms from fever,
loss of appetite and eye inflammation in its early stages, to diarrhea, vomiting, pneumonia, neurological complications such
as ataxia, seizures and paralysis.
Canine distemper occurs around the world not only among domesticated dogs, but also in many wild
carnivores such as raccoons, skumks and foxes. "Wildlife is actually now more of a reservoir for distemper than dogs are,"
says Dr. Schultz. "The virus is spread mainly by air, or by direct contact with secretions from infected animal. The mortality
rate among puppies with distemper is 50% or higher." On the plus side, the distemper virus is very fragile and easily destroyed
by outside influences. "It doesn't live very long in the environment," says Dr. Schultz. "It dies very quidkly because it
is what we call an enveloped virus. These kinds of viruses are highly susceptible to water, disinfectant and sunlight."
Slthough there is only one distemper serotype, there are several genotypes. "What this means is
that, from an immunologic standpoint, it doesn't matter which distemper infects the animal, they're all similar; the vaccine
for canine distemper can protect against the different genotypes." Dr. Schultz adds that modified live vaccines (MLV) are
most effective for distemper. "In fact there's no question in my mind that you should be using live vaccines for most of the
cores. Although attenuated, live vaccines infect and replicate, and that's how you get immunity."
Although AAHA recommends vaccinating against distemper every three years after the initial puppy
shots, challenge studies have shown that the minimum duration of immunity can last five to seven years, and perhaps even longer.
In fact, titers have indicated that dogs can be protected for nine to 15 years. "To be honest, although canine distemper is
a core vaccine, I think a dog only needs to receive it once in his life," says Dr. Schultz. "The same goes for canine parvo
and adenovirus-2. That's the vaccination program I've been practicing on my own dogs without any difficulty whatsoever. We've
never had a vaccine-preventable disease occur."
Titer testing is highly effective for canine distemper, but according to Dr. Schultz, the best time to do it is at two
weeks or more after the last puppy vaccination, to ensure that the animal responded to its initial vaccines. “To my
mind, that’s the only time it’s of medical benefit to use a titer test for canine distemper. After that, you don’t
really need to titer the animal since you can easily go five or seven years before the next vaccine.”
FELINE PANLEUKOPENIA (FPV)
Although FPV is sometimes referred to as feline distemper, this terminology is misleading.
“When I talk about feline ‘distemper,’ I always talk about it as feline parvo or panleukopenia,” explains
Dr. Schultz. “The virus that causes this disease is essentially
identical to the canine parvo virus, but not the
canine distemper virus. If a dog has parvo, it can infect a cat, but this doesn’t happen with distemper.”
Most often found in kittens, FPV is a contagious and deadly disease that attacks and destroys growing cells in the intestine,
blood and nervous system. It causes diarrhea, vomiting, a lowered white blood cell count, and neurological symptoms such as
tremors. Kittens up to six months of age can easily die from the disease, while older cats may develop much milder signs.
“There’s a tremendous age-related resistance to parvo,” says Dr. Schultz. “If the animal is less than
a year old, mortality is 80% to 100%. However, I rarely see mortality in animals over a year of age, although I might see
mild morbidity. Nevertheless, feline parvo is the one cat vaccin4e I absolutely insist on.”
Like canine distemper, feline parvo has worldwide distribution with outbreaks occurring most commonly in urban areas during
the summer months. The disease is transmitted by direct contact, although cats can also contract FPV from the fecal matter
of an infected feline. Unlike canine distemper, the parvo virus is extremely long-lived, and can remain active in the environment
for months or even longer. “Parvo is what we call a naked virus and is one of the most resistant,” says Dr. Schultz.
Soil contaminated with the parvo virus still has the ability to infect an animal a year later. “In fact, parvo is more
often caused by environmental contamination than direct contact with an infected animal. You don’t need the infected
cat to be in the environment for very long in order for it to leave the virus behind.”
As with canine distemper, MLV vaccines are very effective for preventing feline panleukopenia. “With parvo, in fact,
you’d better be using live vaccines, because the killeds don’t work.” As with other core vaccines, kittens
should be vaccinated at 12 weeks. Titer testing is very effective for this disease, although challenge studies indicate that
a vaccinated kitten can remain protected from feline parvo for eight years.
Unlike distemper and parvo, rabies is a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans, which is
why rabies vaccinations are required by law throughout North America. The virus infects the central nervous system, causing
encephalitis and death. Symptoms can include confusion, partial paralysis, aggressive behavior, excessive salivation and other
neurological signs. Although rabies occurs worldwide, including in Asia, Africa and Latin America, some countries such as
the U.K. are rabies-free. In North America, rabies is most prevalent in the eastern portions of the continent, although cases
can occur anywhere. Wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes are the major carriers. Because rabies isn’t
age-related, mammals at all stages of life can be affected with the same degree of severity. The chief means of transmission
is by a bite from an infected animal.
“There are multiple strains of rabies, but the important thing is that the vaccine prevents infection with all those
different strains,” says Dr. Schultz. “Although the risk of infection in domesticated animals is generally low,
the public health concern is the issue. That’s what drives the regulations for rabies vaccines.” As with the other
core vaccines, puppies and kittens should be vaccinated at 12 weeks. Although some states and provinces have approved a three-year
rabies vaccine, some still require annual re-vaccination for dogs and cats, even though the duration of immunity based on
challenge studies has been shown to be three to seven years. “The regulations vary from state to state and province
to province, and even from municipality to municipality.” It’s also important to realize that a municipality might
have a more restrictive requirement than the state or province it’s a part of, although not the other way around.
“Rabies titers are effective, but there’s no point running them because you’re going to have to vaccinate
your animal by law anyhow,” says Dr. Schultz. However, titer testing for rabies is useful in cases where the animal
has had an adverse reaction to the vaccine, or has a medical condition that could be aggravated by the vaccination. “In
these situations, local municipalities will sometimes accept a letter from the vet as a reason not to vaccinate every three
years, But the guardian has to understand that the animal is still considered to be non-vaccinated, and if it bit someone,
it would be treated as such if it’s gone beyond the three years, irrespective of the vet’s letter. Even so, if
you have a dog that for health reasons
shouldn’t be given a rabies vaccine, it’s better to take the chance
of it being quarantined for biting someone than to give the vaccine and kill the dog.”
BACK TO BASICS
Vaccinations definitely have their place in disease prevention, but knowing where to draw the line is
key. “I’ve seen it go from no vaccines back in the mid-1960s, to where we just kept adding one after the other,”
says Dr. Schultz. The pendulum has since started swinging back again as organizations such as AAHA and American Association
of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) began looking more closely at which vaccines out of the 12 for cats and 16 for dogs were really
needed and why. “We used to have one manufacturer that made a canine vaccine combo with 13 different components in it.
That’s not good, and that’s why it’s not available anymore.” Now, by contrast, companies are coming
out with information demonstrating that their products give duration of immunity lasting several years. “All the major
manufacturers are coming on board and saying that their core vaccines give at least three years immunity. To me, that’s
the greatest gratification in the more than 25 years I’ve been doing this.”
The following article on LD 429, An Act to Require Veterinarians to Provide Vaccine Disclosure Forms, appears in the Sunday,
February 20, 2005 issuse of the The Lewiston Sun Journal and may be accessed at the link below.
TOO MANY SHOTS?
By Bonnie Washuk, Staff Writer
Sunday, February 20,2005
Ashleigh D. Starke/Sun Journal
CANINE CONCERNS: Kris Christine of Alna hopes the Legislature will pass legislation requiring all Maine veterinarians to
give pet owners disclosure forms on the pros and cons of vaccinations. In January 2003, her Labrador retriever, Meadow, pictured
here, developed a mast cell tumor on the site of a rabies vaccination.
AUGUSTA - Like many pet owners, when Kris Christine of Alna got cards from her veterinarian reminding her that Meadow's
and Butter's shots were due, she brought in her lovable Labs.
Her vet recommended that her pets have rabies shots every other year and distemper shots every year, Christine said.
But months after Meadow's biannual rabies shot in the fall of 2003, she noticed something. "He had this weird thing on
his back hind side," she said. "Every time he'd run, it would swell, then it would go away."
Meadow eventually was diagnosed with mast cell cancer, which Christine believes resulted from the vaccination injection
at that same spot on his leg. "It's not something you want," she said. "It's an aggressive cancer."
Veterinarians say the likelihood is very small that Meadow's cancer stemmed from the shot. However, while taking care of
Meadow's cancer, Christine stumbled on a hot debate in the animal health field: How often should dogs and cats be vaccinated?
While experts stress that vaccines are vital to the health of pets, mounting research indicates vaccines can no longer
be considered harmless. Research shows they can cause adverse health effects - everything from lower immunity against viruses,
bacteria and parasites, to cancer - and that some vaccines do not have to be given as frequently as once thought.
In response, the American Animal Hospital Association in 2003 began recommending less frequent vaccinations for cats and
Christine, who began researching the subject after Meadow's cancer was detected, quickly became an energetic crusader,
spreading information about vaccinations and questioning frequency guidelines. She believes that by following her veterinarian's
recommendations, "Meadow was being over-vaccinated for years."
Ashleigh D. Starke/Sun Journal
Kris Christine of Alna hopes the Legislature will pass legislation requiring all Maine
veterinarians to give pet owners disclosure forms on the pros and cons of vaccinations.
In the process, Christine said
she discovered that Maine law required a rabies shot for dogs and cats every two years, despite the fact that the vaccine's
manufacturer says it is good for three.
She questioned the law in early 2004, and it was changed last fall, according to state public health veterinarian Dr. Robert
Gholson. The state now mandates that rabies shots be given every three years. (Saying not all veterinarians have gotten the
word, Gholson is sending out a second reminder.)
Christine now hopes she will be equally successful with her next effort: to get the Legislature to pass a law requiring
Maine veterinarians to disclose the pros and cons of vaccines.
Rep. Peter Rines, D-Wiscasset, is sponsoring L.D. 429, and said that since introducing the bill, the outpouring of e-mails
and letters in favor has been overwhelming.
"In my tenure as a legislator I've never had this kind of response," he said. Pet owners are thanking him, and some people
outside Maine have said they hope his bill will lead to similar laws in other states, he said.
"Everyone wants to do the best thing for our four-legged friends," said Rines, noting his bill is intended only to give
But some Maine veterinarians plan to voice their opposition to the bill at its public hearing on Feb. 28. Saying they feel
like they're under attack, the opponents say they see no need for disclosure forms.
The making of a crusader
After Meadow was diagnosed with cancer last year, he underwent two operations. A chunk of his back thigh was removed.
On the bottom of one of Christine's veterinarian bills in April for cancer treatment was a reminder that Meadow's distemper
shot was due in November and his next rabies shot in 2005.
It upset Christine. "I said, 'He's not going to be alive then.'"
Christine said her veterinarian said the cancer did not come from the vaccine, but Christine was skeptical. She grew even
more doubtful after learning that the law required dog immunizations every two years even though the rabies vaccine lasted
When she got the bill, Christine told her vet she had a problem giving her dog vaccinations every year or every other year.
"Here's my dog lying at my feet, suffering with a huge chunk of his hind leg removed. I thought, 'You were giving him medication
that you know he doesn't need.'"
Christine found a new veterinarian and became an advocate for changing the laws and making pet owners more aware of the
potential health risks posed by vaccinations. "We need the tools," she said
She is not the only one who feels that way.
Among those concerned about pets receiving vaccinations too frequently are AKC judge and former breeder Arnold Woolf of
Lewiston and Larry Doyon of Munster Abbey Kennels in Minot, breeders of German shepherds. Both say they support the legislation.
Experts: Risks are low, but . . .
Christine's efforts have also met angry opposition. Last week the Maine Veterinary Medical Association came out against
L.D. 429. In a Feb. 2 letter to lawmakers, MVMA President Matt Townsend did not directly spell out why the organization is
opposed to the bill.
But Townsend complained that such a law would mandate "cumbersome disclosure and consent procedures for every vaccination
and medication dispensed by veterinarians." It also said Christine "has launched what can only be described as an aggressive
scare campaign, designed to drive a wedge of distrust between pet owners and their veterinarians."
Actually, the law makes no mention of medication other than vaccines. The law says veterinarians must provide disclosure
forms informing consumers about the advantages and disadvantages of vaccines.
MVMA Executive Director Bill Bell said there is no Maine protocol on how often vaccines should be administered, and that
even top researchers disagree. "The bill is vague to the point of being ridiculous," he said.
Veterinarians are worried a disclosure form would scare away some pet owners from having their dogs and cats vaccinated,
which would lead to diseases coming back, Bell said. He added that the bill will increase paperwork for veterinarians without
doing any good.
One nationally recognized vaccine researcher, Dr. Ronald Schultz, favors the law.
While rare, vaccines can cause adverse health affects in cats and dogs, said Schultz, an expert in animal vaccinations
and chair of the department of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
"I favor anything that would better inform the potential buyer of what they need and what they're getting," he said in
a telephone interview from his Wisconsin office.
A majority of veterinarians are already providing that information, but some are not, he said.
The thinking that vaccines are harmless is changing, Schultz said, adding that annual vaccinations don't help pets, and
can hurt them. "For years we worked under a philosophy of 'if it doesn't help, (at least) it won't hurt.'"
What he called "an awakening" began in the 1980s when healthy cats given vaccines were getting cancer. "The odds were small,
but if the odds are 1 in 1,000 that doesn't matter if it's your pet," he said.
The probability of dog vaccines causing cancer is lower than cats, he said. "But we're constantly learning. The wake-up
call to the veterinarian profession was that vaccines create a risk. ... No matter how rare the adverse effects are, we don't
want to give a product that's not needed."
Schultz said the veterinary profession has been using annual or biannual shots as a way to bring clients through the door
for the more important exam. Convincing pet owners to come in by telling them their pets' annual or biannual shots are due
should no longer be practiced, he said.
Schultz cited the newest guidelines from the American Animal Hospital Association, which in 2003 went from recommending
annual distemper shots to one every three years. Under the guidelines, dogs and cats should receive core shots for rabies
and distemper beginning at 12 weeks, a booster at one year, then boosters no more frequently than every three years. (Some
central and western Maine veterinarians are following the recommendations, others are not. See related chart.)
All other vaccines are "optional," according to Schultz and the AAHA, and are based on the animal's lifestyle and risk.
For instance, annual Lyme disease and heartworm vaccines may be important for pets living in areas where those diseases have
been prevalent, but may not be necessary where they have not, he said.
Maine vets already informing
While not all researchers or veterinarians agree with Schultz, many acknowledge that the thinking regarding vaccines has
changed in recent years, and that more vets are giving vaccinations less frequently.
"There's been a paradigm shift to greater focus on trying to encourage clients to see the importance of an examine and
not vaccines, that vets aren't just for shots anymore," said Dr. Bill Bryant, past president of MVMA. Physical examinations
at least once a year are important, he stressed, especially when considering that dogs and cats "age seven years on average
for every year we age."
Part of that examination, Bryant said, involves making a recommendation on what vaccines a pet should have, based on the
pet's lifestyle. For instance, a dog that is never with other animals may need less vaccine protection than one that goes
to a doggie day care. An indoor cat needs less than one that roams outdoors.
In part because of that important relationship between a veterinarian and a pet owner, Bryant and at least some other Maine
veterinarians remain wary of Christine's legislation. Veterinarians are already giving clients information on the risk of
vaccines, he said. Central Maine Veterinary Hospital in Turner, for instance, asks pet owners to sign a vaccination consent
form that outlines the concerns.
Dr. Susan Chadiman of Androscoggin Animal Hospital in Topsham said L.D. 429 is well intentioned and that the veterinarian's
office "is the place for dialogue, for education." But she said she's against the bill because a mandated disclosure form
would not enhance that.
"It would create a tremendous amount of paperwork," Chadiman said. "And a real concern is that it leaves wide open who's
going to decide what is science, what is fact."
Christine, whose dog Meadow is now doing "very well," counters that science has already proven that the protective effects
of pet vaccines last longer than even the newest recommendations. But she said her legislation is simply about a consumer's
right to know.
"I think pet owners have a right to know what veterinarians know" about the effects and effectiveness of vaccines, she
No one would advocate giving a human a 10-year tetanus shot every two years, she said. Pet owners are consumers. "They
need to know there's no benefit in giving their dogs booster shots more often ... and it does put them at increased risk for
adverse side effects," she said.
What: The bill says veterinarians "shall provide a vaccine disclosure form to the owner of a dog or cat before vaccinating
that dog or cat. The vaccine disclosure form must provide information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of vaccines."
When: L.D. 429 will be heard before the legislative Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The public
hearing has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, in Room 206 of the State Office Building.
FOR THE DOGS
By Bonnie Washuk, Staff Writer
AUGUSTA - A public hearing Monday on a proposal to mandate consumers be given information about the risks and benefits
of vaccines turned into a face-off, with no agreement between veterinarians and pet owners.
Veterinarians staunchly opposed legislators forcing them to give pet owners information about vaccines. They're already
doing that, they said. And the science about adverse health risks from vaccines is "fluid," making it impossible to give good
information, veterinarians said.
Pet owners and dog breeders who jammed into the standing-room-only hearing were on the other side of L.D. 429. They questioned
why veterinarians were so opposed to giving out information.
With her little dog, Minnie, in her arms, Laura Moon of Brunswick said she favors the bill. Everyone was there because
they love animals, she said. "That's why I think disclosure is so important. How as an owner, as a guardian, do you know if
you don't know?"
When any activity raises potential harm, precautionary measures are warranted, even if the cause and effect are not fully
understood, Moon said. "How can we make an informed decision if we don't have information?"
Joan Jordan, a dog breeder and dog obedience teacher from Woolwich, said she's seen dogs "that have had a vaccine that
had had lumps and died. Personally I had a dog a couple of years ago I lost." Weeks after her dog had a vaccine, she underwent
surgery and chemotherapy, she said, adding that 18 months later "Sarah" died.
When humans are prescribed medicine they're given information about possible risks, Jordan said. "I see no reason why the
veterinarians feel that that's a threat to their services. ... What's the problem with us just knowing what the research is
Arnold Woolf of Lewiston, a breeder and dog judge, called the bill a "safeguard for dogs and cats." Years ago he sold a
Collie puppy to a couple who took that puppy to their veterinarian. That veterinarian "re-inoculated the animal," giving shots
the puppy already had. The dog died within 48 hours from a vaccine overdose, Woolf said. " That's what the autopsy showed."
Veterinarians disagreed that the bill would do any good. They testified about how critical vaccines are to keeping dogs
and cats disease free, how their profession is under attack with inaccurate information.
Dr. Bill Bryant of Winthrop, past president of the Maine Veterinary Medical Association, said veterinarians are strong
proponents of education, but they're against the bill. Vaccine protocols have changed and will continue to change, he said.
Experts disagree on the science of health risks, he said. With that science "fluid," Bryant asked who would write information
in disclosures, and what set of research would be used?
Legislators should not mandate disclosure forms "for what is a rapidly evolving national veterinary issue that Maine veterinarians
are actively addressing," Bryant said.
Dr. Paul Wade of Manchester said polls show that veterinarians are among the most trusted professionals. Wade said he gives
his clients numerous consent and information forms on many services, including vaccines, that show the benefits and side effects.
Most veterinarians are also doing that, he said. "There is no need for a state law to force us to do something we're already
doing voluntarily. The bill is not a legislative issue," Wade said with a tone of annoyance. "The hidden agenda behind this
bill is not for the protection of welfare for animals, but an attempt to further control an already ethical and trusted profession."
The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee will take up LD 429 in an unscheduled work session, possibly March
16, those attending the hearing were told.
HEARING ON PET VACCINE DISCLOSURE FORMS DRAWS A BIG CROWD
By Kay Liss
A hearing on
a proposal to require veterinarians to provide to pet owners disclosure forms on vaccines was standing-room-only on Monday
in Augusta. Comments were fairly equally divided, with citizens in support on one hand and veterinarians opposed on the other.
The proposed act is the latest effort spearheaded by Kris Christine of Alna to correct what she views as flaws in state
laws regarding the administering of vaccines to pets, dogs in particular.
She recently was successful in bringing enough attention to discrepancies in canine rabies vaccination rules, which resulted
in over-vaccination of dogs in Maine for 17 years, that the law was changed, extending the administering of inoculations from
two to three years. Language exempting sick dogs from the requirement is soon to be added, due to the persistence of the Alna
mother and dog owner.
This new proposal, initially championed by former Senator Chris Hall of Bristol, and presently by Rep. Peter Rines (D-Wiscasset),
is an important next step, Christine believes, providing pet owners with scientifically-based information on which to make
decisions on other routinely-given canine vaccines, specifically the distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis booster shot, recommended
annually by vets. In her research into the rabies vaccines issue, she came upon information that suggested this booster vaccine
was protective for much longer than a year.
First to speak to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forest Committee at the hearing, Christine began: “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.”
Her testimony was bolstered by information from various authoritative sources, including Dr. Ronald Schultz, a leading
researcher and authority on veterinary vaccine. His studies formed the scientific basis of the American Animal Hospital Association’s
(AAHA) 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature, which stated: “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.”
In the American Veterinarian Medical Association’s Principles of Vaccination literature, Christine further quoted,
“Unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance, and may increase the risk
of adverse post-vaccination events” including “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.”
Speaking in support of the bill, a social worker from Warren, Jennifer Pearson, said she was “baffled” by the
resistance of the veterinarians to the disclosure forms. Just as peoples’ rights are recognized to know the risks and
benefits of drugs they take, so should the rights of pet owners be recognized in the vaccines recommended for their animals.
Arnold Woolf, a dog breeder from Lewiston and an AKC judge, testified that the disclosure forms would provide a “safeguard”
to dogs and cats. He added that he didn’t see why supplying such a disclosure form should be a burden to vets, since
pharmacists supply consumers a print-out of the pros and cons of drug they purchase without any trouble. Another breeder,
Kay Sukforth of Sukee Kennels in Warren, commented that she thought the vets should welcome such a form, because it would
protect them from possible lawsuits.
Dr. Bill Bryant, past president of the Maine Veterinarians Medical Association (MVMA), testified that vaccine protocols
were in a “period of transition” and that the science is so complex and in a state of flux that it would be too
difficult to provide a reliable and simple disclosure form. He said he didn’t want to turn “our profession”
into managed care. He also accused the Christines of carrying on a negative campaign against the veterinarian community.
When asked by a number of legislators why he had previously said he was in favor of the disclosure form legislation, having
stated in a Veterinary News magazine article “It’s 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,” Bryant appeared hardpressed to explain. He did agree a usable form might be devised but did not support it being
devised by a legislative committee but by veterinarian associations.
Other veterinarians claimed they were already giving their clients information about vaccines so didn’t need to provide
disclosure forms. A number claimed to be just like “James Herriot,” the well-known veterinarian and author of
“All Creatures Great and Small” who has become a symbol of the ideal, trustworthy vet.
A supporter of the forms, Laura Moon of Brunswick, appeared with her Jack Russell Terrier, who had a large tumor on its
side. She urged legislators to pass a law so that people would have more knowledge of vaccines, and that possible side-effects
of such vaccines might be avoided.
Legislators will convene a work session on the bill in about two weeks. The act would be the first of its kind in the nation.
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 Alna,
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 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, “..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 and..may fail to adequately inform practitioners
about optimal use of the product... .” As the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital states
it: “…booster vaccine recommendations for vaccines other than rabies virus have been determined arbitrarily
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.
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 . 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
“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
The AVMA’s Principles of Vaccination
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.” 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.”
Referring to adverse reactions from vaccines, the Wall
Street Journal article cited above 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” by veterinarian Dennis
M. McCurnin, reports that: “Change has been discussed for the past 15 years and now has started to move across
According to a September 1, 2004 article in the DVM veterinary news magazine, 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.
Kris L. Christine
Alna, ME 04535