Vaccination Tips

Gerald Hauer, DVM
Bison Production Specialist
Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Bison Centre of Excellence, Leduc, Alberta.
Phone: (780) 986-4100
Reprinted form The Tracker, volume 3, issue 8, August/September 1999

Summary

To be effective, vaccines must be stored, handled and administered properly. If one of these steps are neglected the vaccine may not work. Here are a few tips on how to keep the vaccines as potent as possible.

Vaccination Tips

To be effective, vaccines must be stored, handled and administered properly. If one of these steps are neglected the vaccine may not work. Here are a few tips on how to keep the vaccines as potent as possible.

  1. Read the label thoroughly. Vaccines should be given using the correct dose, route of administration, and timing. Also, you should be familiar with slaughter withdrawal times and safety precautions such as avoiding certain products on pregnant animals.
  2. Vaccines should be kept refrigerated. If you are going to buy vaccine, take along a small cooler and an ice pack for the ride home. When you are working with your animals, use a cooler and an ice pack to keep vaccines cool.
  3. Protect vaccines from freezing. The same cooler that keeps vaccines cool in the summer can keep them from freezing in the winter with a warm water bottle.
  4. Keep vaccines out of direct sunlight. The sun can inactivate viruses or bacteria in the vaccine so set your syringe and bottles down in the shade.
  5. Shake the vial before drawing out your vaccine. Some vaccines are suspensions and need to be agitated or the liquid portion will be drawn off, and the active ingredient left behind.
  6. Don't mix too much vaccine at one time. Modified live virus vaccines need to be reconstituted (when a liquid is mixed with a powder) and they will only remain effective for about one hour. Mix only as much as you will use in the next hour. It might be better to buy several smaller bottles rather than one large one.
  7. When using modified live virus vaccines don't use disinfectants to clean the syringe or needle. Small amounts of disinfectant can kill the virus and drastically reduce its effectiveness. Clean the syringes with hot water only.
  8. Keep the air out of the syringes when injecting. Air will compress when you push on the plunger and result in an incorrect dose being administered. If you see vaccine squirting onto the hair after you pull the needle out of the skin, check your syringe for air bubbles!
  9. Don't inject through soiled skin. Dirt, urine, or feces on the skin will contaminate the needle and may cause an infection at the injection site which can inactivate the vaccine.
  10. Use a proper needle. Subcutaneous injections are best administered with ½ or ¾ inch needles and intramuscular injections are best given with 1 or 1 ½ inch needles.
  11. Change the needle every 10-12 animals. Needles get dull, barbed, or bent after several animals so it is best to change the needles frequently to decrease tissue damage. On very expensive animals I use a new, disposable needle on each animal.
  12. Don't mix vaccines. Unless it states specifically on the label that it is OK, never mix two vaccines.
  13. Label your syringes. To avoid confusion, I place a piece of tape on the syringes and label which vaccine they should be filled with.
  14. Use injection techniques that ensure proper placement of vaccines.To be effective vaccines must be injected either subcutaneously or intramuscularly as specified on the label. If the label gives you a choice, subcutaneous injections are preferred because they cause less muscle damage.
  15. Discard any unused vaccine. Leftover vaccines lose their effectiveness and may be contaminated. It is best to discard any vials that have been opened at the end of the day.

Vaccines are given to prevent disease in livestock. Optimize the effectiveness of the vaccines that you administer by giving them correctly.

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