The vexing question – Killed vaccines vs Live vaccines8 September, 2006
1. To vaccinate or not?
The kittens are coming up to nine weeks, and according to veterinary protoccol, they should be vaccinated at nine weeks and a secondary vaccine at twelve weeks.
I’m not entirely happy about this. From a holistic perspective, vaccines stress/alter the immune system, they do not confer immunity – their merely ameliorate the symptoms of the illnesses being vaccinated for. There is even a school of thought that believes that because certain illnesses have been “eliminated” through vaccination, it’s given rise to other illnesses. Furthermore, kittens get immunity from their mother’s milk up to the age of 14 weeks – surely that would cancel the vaccination out?
However, I’ve heard of cases of cats dying from illnesses because they haven’t been vaccinated. So: the jury is still out on not vaccinating, and I will vaccinate because it’s the cat association’s guidelines and I still haven’t the guts to put my foot down and be 100% holistic, because of “what ifs”.
2. 3-in-1 vaccine or 5-in1 vaccine?
The core vaccinations are for feline infectious enteritis (panleucopaenia) virus, feline rhinotracheitis virus and feline calicivirus, i.e. 3-in-1 vaccines. Some pharmaceutical companies have come up with 5-in-1, with the addition of chlamydia and feline leukaemia.
I think a young kitten’s immune system is too immature to cope with a 5-in-1.
FeLV is a serious, often fatal illness. It’s transmitted via blood or saliva or sexual intercourse. It’s something to consider if cats wander the streets.
My cats do not wander the streets and meet other cats – they are kept in a confined garden. My mother cat has been tested negative for FeLV.
Recently I’ve heard rumours of severe reactions to 5-in-1 vaccines – a kitten was permanently blinded after such a vaccine.
So: 3-in-1 vaccine.
3. Killed vaccines or live vaccines?
My vet has given me a choice: Norbivac Tricat which is a live attenuated (i.e. modified) virus, and Fevaxyn iCHP which is a killed (i.e. inactivated) virus.
There are arguments both for and against live vs. killed vaccines.
Modified live vaccines typically stimulate broader immune response.They are sufficiently weakened (attenuated) to avoid causing disease. However, modified live vaccines are considered the most dangerous by experts in immunology. They have the ability to replicate and then mutate in the body and are banned in Scandanavian countries. In multi-cat households, there is the risk of the virus being shed and causing illness in other cats.
So, a killed virus should be safer, right? Unfortunately, killed vaccines take longer to stimulate an immune response. In most killed vaccines, adjuvants (chemicals) are added to stimulate the immune system. Although adjuvants improve the effectiveness they also increase the risk of reactions, e.g. swelling near the injection site, and sometimes tumours. I’ve read that in the US, vets are advised to vaccinate on a limb of the pet so that if a tumour does develop, the limb can be amputated. Sheesh … what are we doing to our pets?
Last year I vaccinated using a killed 3-in-1 vaccine. So maybe I’ll stop dithering and use the same.
9/3/09 – Further thoughts on vaccination based on the comments that have been left on this post.
– There is always a risk in vaccinating young kittens. I still haven’t resolved this dilemma yet.
– Don’t try to do too much at once, i.e. vaccinate, plus de-worm plus de-flea at the same time. Young kittens’ systems can’t cope with this much chemical overload.
– I usually de-worm at least a week before vaccination because I’ve read somewhere that worm die-off and toxicity can make a kitten’s body more vulnerable to vaccinations.