Valiant Vaccines and Why They Fail?


Dr Karthik V Kuttan
As pet parents we are aware that vaccinations are of utmost important to protect our furry friends from deadly diseases. But sometimes we see that our pet develops a disease against which he has already been vaccinated. There can be various causes that lead to vaccine failure. Let’s learn more about it together! –by Dr Karthik V Kuttan
Break in the cold chain
Almost all vaccines are preserved at refrigerated temperature. Vaccines transported from the pharmaceutical company to the end user, should maintain this cold chain in order to maintain the potency of the vaccine. If the vaccines become too warm during  transportation to the distributer or while being stored at the distributer/medical shops, the vaccine becomes inactivated and can lead to vaccine failure.

No vaccine is 100 percent protective
A lot of pet parents do not understand that just like in humans, a vaccine is not 100 percent protective for pets as well. Due to health reason or individual variations, the vaccine can be less effective in some animals as compared to others.

Vaccinating an unhealthy pet – not a good idea
Vaccinations are usually done after health checkup in order to make sure that your pet is healthy. Vaccinating an unhealthy pet or a pet with compromised immunity can lead to vaccine failure.

Shield of maternal antibodies
Newborn puppies are born with a shield of protection in the form of maternal antibodies. These maternally derived antibodies pass from the mother to the puppies mainly through colostrum, the first milk. These antibodies provide a passive immunity, which protects the puppies from diseases during the first few months of their life.

But these maternal antibodies can interfere with vaccinations. The level of maternally derived antibodies decreases at the age of two months in majority of puppies. Hence, for puppies the first vaccination starts at the age of 45 – 60 days. That’s when the level of maternal antibodies start to diminish.

But the level of maternal antibodies varies in individual puppies. When puppies are vaccinated in the presence of maternal antibodies, these maternal antibodies react with the vaccine and neutralise the vaccine. As a result antibodies are not produced against the vaccine from the puppy’s immune system which can lead to vaccine failure. Although there are multiple reasons for vaccine failure in pets, as responsible pet parents you must take your pet for regular vaccination to keep them happy and healthy. Also maintain your pet’s vaccination chart.

(Dr Karthik V Kuttan is MVSc (Veterinary Gynaecology & Obstetrics) and Assistant Manager at Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala)