Vaccination Protocol

American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Task Force Guidelines

In 2003, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) released their their groundbreaking 2003 Guidelines (see The Bearded Colleague, Fall 2003). Since then, the guidelines have been reviewed and updated regularly, with additions and updates over the years. Though the information was not actually new even in 2003, it had not previously been compiled in a single document, nor had a vaccination schedule based on the information been officially recommended.

Vaccine Groups
The most widely-accepted of the recommended changes is the categorization of vaccines. Instead of every dog receiving vaccinations for every disease, a dog should only be vaccinated for those diseases which are significant, and to which the dog is likely to be exposed. Vaccines are broken down in the three groups: Core (recommended) vaccines, those which are suggested for all dogs; Non-core (optional) vaccines, those which are given on an as-needed basis, depending on exposure risk and such things as location and lifestyle; and Not Recommended vaccines, those that have not been consistently effective in preventing disease, or those which are for diseases that are not clinically significant and/or respond readily to treatment.

Core Vaccines (recommended for all dogs)
Canine Distemper Virus
Canine Parvovirus
Canine Adenovirus-2
Rabies Virus
+/- Parainfluenza

Non-core Vaccines( recommended for some dogs based on life-style, geographic location, and risk of exposure)
Distemper-Measles Virus (Never indicated in animals older than 12 weeks)
Canine Parainfluenza Virus (This is not the recently reported canine influenza virus)
Bordatella bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough)
Borellia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease)
Crotalus atrox Toxiod (Rattlesnake)
Canine Influenza

in 2003, a change that was controversial, was the recommendation for less frequent revaccination. While veterinary immunologists have been stating that annual vaccination is unnecessary for nearly three decades, many veterinarians are still promoting yearly “booster shots”. The AAHA Task Force evaluated the data from a number of challenge and serological studies and, while noting that the core vaccines had a minimum duration of immunity of at least seven years, compromised in 2003 with the statement that “revaccination every 3 years is considered protective.” In the 2006 update, this was changed to “revaccination every 3 years or more is considered protective.” The revaccination recommendations are considered part of the vaccine description.

Vaccination Dos and Don’ts
The 2003 Guidelines included a list of 14 “Important Vaccination Dos and Don’ts” – 13 of which were “Don’ts”. There are no loner specifically outlined, bit a a good synopsis.
These include such things as:
Do Not Vaccinate Needlessly
Do Not Vaccinate Anesthetized Patients
Do Not Vaccinate Pregnant Dogs
Do Not Assume that Vaccines Cannot Harm a Patient
Do Not Vaccinate Animals on Immunosuppressive Therapy
Do Not Revaccinate a Dog with Vaccines Previously Known to Induce Anaphylaxis in that Dog
And the Do:
Do Make Sure the Last Dose of a Puppy Immunization Series is Administered at more than 12 Weeks of Age

Vaccinations for Shelter Dogs
The 2006 Guidelines also introduced recommendations for vaccination of dogs in shelter environments. There have been reviewed and revised regularily with the overall Guidelines.

Comprehensive Individualized Care
An underlying theme in the AAHA Guidelines, as well as the AVMA’s policy on vaccination, is that there is no one vaccination protocol that will work for every dog. Decisions on which vaccines to use, and when, should be made based on a dog’s age, breed, health status, environment, lifestyle, and travel habits. Vaccination should be only one component of a comprehensive preventive health care plan, and veterinarians and clients should work together to determine the vaccination protocol that gives the best chances of maintaining immunity while minimizing the potential for adverse events.

You may wish to read “Top 10 Things You Need to Know About AAHA's Canine Vaccination Guidelines” from the AAHA Pet Care Library.

You can access the AAHA Vaccination Guidelines information directly and the link to download the entire document can be found here.

Compiled 2023 [Lois Gaspar]
All rights reserved.