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Do your homework with vaccine labels

Pfizer Animal Health Published on 27 October 2010

Vaccine labels contain a wealth of information, and failing to read vaccine label indications and understanding label claims may leave cattle vulnerable to disease.

“Vaccine labels and claims sometimes seem complicated, but they do contain a lot of important information,” says J.P. Pollreisz, DVM, veterinary operations of Pfizer Animal Health. “That’s why it’s essential that producers talk with their veterinarians and always read the label before choosing and administering vaccines.” 

In fact, Dr. Pollreisz adds, just by reading the label, producers can find information about how to handle and administer vaccines as well as which cattle can be vaccinated. They also can find precautions, when vaccines should be given and withdrawal information.

In addition to administration and handling information, vaccine labels include one of five U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved claims for each vaccine component. The five possible label claims include prevention of infection, prevention of disease, aids in disease prevention, aids in disease control or other claims. These claims indicate the expected level of performance producers should receive for each disease component in the vaccine.

“A disease challenge model is often used to evaluate the ability of a vaccine to provide protection against the diseases producers are vaccinating against,” Dr. Pollreisz says. “One group of cattle is vaccinated according to label, but with the minimum dose of the vaccine, and another group is held as a control group. Once cattle have been challenged, and evaluated, the label claim is granted based on the degree of protection that was achieved.”

For economically important diseases like bovine respiratory disease (BRD), Dr. Pollreisz recommends producers look for vaccines that can offer the highest level of protection available and have a demonstrated duration of immunity.

“There can be a big difference in the level of protection a vaccine offers from one label claim to the next,” Dr. Pollreisz says. “For example, a vaccine labeled to prevent disease will be highly effective in preventing clinical disease. However, while a vaccine labeled to aid in the prevention of disease may prevent disease by a significant amount, it still may be less than that required to support a claim of disease prevention.”

“Knowing the information and facts about vaccine labels helps ensure that vaccines are effective,” Dr. Pollreisz says. “It also can help producers choose the appropriate vaccines for their operations and goals.” end_mark