Quick Tips for Proper Vaccination of Your Herd
Anyone in the dairy business knows that vaccinations are an essential element of any dairy herd health program. They protect against everything from bovine respiratory disease (BRD) to leukosis to parainfluenza-3 virus (PI3).
At the same time, vaccination protocols are not “one size fits all.” Each herd has different disease risks, depending on such things as mode of operation and the region of the country in which they operate, according to Mario Villarino, DVM, Hopkins County extension agent for Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
“Some areas of the country have a protocol in place for Johne’s disease, for instance,” he offered. “You have to control it only if you have a disease; if not, you don’t have to. Also, closed herds that don’t bring in new animals may have less need for certain vaccines. That’s why close communication with your veterinarian is imperative. He or she can tailor a vaccination program to each individual dairy.”
It’s the first in a long list of tips Villarino provided Bovine Health Watch to help keep your vaccination program on track.
• Have your veterinarian develop a vaccination protocol specific to your herd.
• Fresh cows coming out of pregnancy should already be primed with a series of vaccines, tailored to your herd.
• Try to administer vaccines when animals are not stressed; stress suppresses the immune system.
• Stress is created during hot weather, when animals are moved and during calving, peripartum or freshening.
• The cow’s immune system requires two weeks to develop significant titers in the blood.
• Administer vaccines at least two weeks prior to freshening; avoid vaccinating cows within two weeks of calving.
• Always work with your veterinarian on any extra-label use of vaccines.
• Be aware of state or regional protocols that require vaccinations for specific diseases.
HANDLING AND STORAGE
• Use only drugs labeled for use in dairy cattle.
• Always follow manufacturers’ instructions; note expiration dates and withdrawal times.
• Protect vaccines from heat and cold; most vaccines must be refrigerated between 36º and 46° F.
• Keep vaccines and needles free from dust.
• Discard any opened vaccine vials after vaccinations are completed for the day.
INJECTION TECHNIQUES, EQUIPMENT
• Administer vaccines subcutaneously when possible.
• If using intramuscular route, inject in the neck; some vaccines are aggressive and can irritate tissue.
• Intravenous injection is generally reserved for medications that can cause severe muscle damage. Use this route only under a veterinarian’s guidance.
• Use only sharp, clean needles, sized appropriately for each medication.
• If possible, use each needle only once; if not, sterilize needles in boiling water.
• Always use a clean transfer needle to extract and mix vaccine.
• Never insert a used needle in a medicine bottle.
• Create thorough, written protocols in English and Spanish to minimize mistakes.
• Keep records, including date, vaccine lot and serial number, route of administration and side effects or reactions.
Sources: Villarino, M.A. Proper Injection Techniques in Dairy Cattle. AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M University System. Publication E-567, May, 2009.