New Vaccination Protocols - A Review of the Literature
Immunology - A Basic Understanding
To help the lay person understand this presentation, as well as the Veterinarian
who has been out of school for 30 years
like me, I have some definitions in the
library of my web
site  under Immunology 101.


For modified live vaccines like distemper and parvovirus we inject a few attenuated (weakened) viruses into the patient. These viruses are taken
up by the host DNA where they replicate. For every virus injected we get thousands. They are then presented to the immune system. This programs plasma cells to produce antibodies. It also
programs memory cells which persist for the life
of the patient.
 These memory cells, B &T lymphocytes, can at a moments notice, respond with sufficient antibodies to prevent infection, even in the absence of an antibody titer. Cell mediated immunity is also stimulated, which can attack and
destroy any cells which become infected, before the virus can replicate.
If the patient had antibodies from the mother’s colostrum or from a  previous vaccination, antibodies from colostrum or from the first vaccine would
prevent the viruses in the new vaccine from replicating. Cell mediated immunity would also prevent replication. The immune system would not be stimulated. Since antibody titers have been shown
to last for 7 to 15 years and memory
cells persist for life there is no benefit from repeat administration of MLV vaccines like distemper and parvovirus. Maternal antibodies or antibodies from a previous vaccination can block a rabies vaccine from having any effect in the same way. 


Because modified live vaccines
replicate within the host’s cells they stimulate good cell mediated immunity. For a killed vaccine to stimulate cell mediated immunity( depending on the antigen), an adjuvant must be added to make the virus in the vaccine a sustained release type product. Adjuvant also stimulates the immune system by increasing inflammation at the site of
the vaccine.


The average person may believe that
this is why we give a series of vaccines initially, to boost the immunity. This is
not what happens at all. Remember we just said that antibodies from the first vaccine will block any subsequent vaccines form having an effect. There is no such thing as a booster for a modified live vaccine.


Puppies and kittens adsorb antibodies form their mothers milk, colostrum, the first day they nurse.
 Different puppies may receive more antibodies depending on the mothers antibody levels and depending on how much they nurse.These maternal antibodies block a vaccine from having any effect. They antibody levels will decline at different rates in different puppies. They will decline to  a low enough level that the vaccine virus can replicate and stimulate the immune system beginning at 6 weeks in some puppies and sometimes last
as late as 16 weeks in other puppies.
We give a series of vaccines every three to
four weeks so we can break through the maternal antibodies at the earliest possible time. It is not important how many vaccines
the patients get. What is important is
how old they are when they get the last vaccine. The older they are, the better an immunity they can get due to the lack of maternal antibodies interfering with the vaccine, and also due to age related immunity.

At 6 weeks of age only 37% of puppies and kittens will have low enough maternal antibody levels that the
vaccine can work .
At 8-9 weeks 79% of puppies will have low enough maternal antibody levels
that the vaccine can work.
At 12 weeks 95% will have low enough maternal antibody levels that the vaccine can work.
This study was done on Rottweillers which seem to be harder to seroconvert. This study does not take into effect cell mediated immunity


This study by Dr Ron Schultz demonstrates
that antibodies from a previous vaccine will
interfere with subsequent vaccines, blocking any stimulation of the immune system.

106 dogs, divided into three groups, and vaccinated one, two or three years previously were re-vaccinated. The antibody titer only
rose slightly in one dog. This proves that antibodies from a previous vaccine will block any subsequent vaccine from having an effect. The virus in the vaccine must replicate to stimulate an immune response. Antibodies from a previous vaccine block this replication.  This is what Dr Schultz meant when he said
“the client is paying for something with no effect.” Annual administration of rabies, distemper and parvovirus vaccine  does not elevate antibody titers or expand the number of memory cells.  The immunity of the patient is not enhanced.

We give a series of three or four vaccines to
puppies initially. At six weeks we protect 37%.
The other puppies had too high of maternal
antibody levels for the vaccine to have any effect.
If we give another vaccine to all the puppies at  8 weeks we can now immunize 79%.
 Those puppies that were successfully immunized at 6 weeks of age will not get any stimulation out of this next vaccine because the antibodies they developed from the first vaccine will block the next vaccine from having any effect. We give another round of vaccines because we do not know which puppies were protected and it is cheaper to re-vaccinate than to test their titers. The vaccine at 12 weeks will protect some new puppies that were not previously protected, but those that were already protected will not be stimulated further because the antibodies from the previous vaccine will block any subsequent vaccine. This is the reason we give a series of vaccines. The immune system does not mature completely until 6 months of age. Any vaccine given after 6 months of age will provide a better immunity. That is why we give another vaccine at one year later. The one year interval was a completely arbitrary number chosen simply because that was a convenient time for the owner to return.

From Dr Ian Tizard, author of the text
book on immunology used by most
Veterinary Schools.
An important thing to note for dog
breeders, vaccinating the bitch before
 breeding in a previously immunized
dog does not increase antibody levels
in the colostrum.






There is no scientific data to show
vaccines are only good for a year or that
 repeat administration of vaccines
annually stimulates added protection

This is what Dr Schultz meant when he
said ”the client is paying for something
with no effect.”


There is an anamnestic response or memory response to killed vaccines like leptospirosis or rabies when we administer two doses three weeks apart. For a modified live vaccine like distemper or parvovirus, the day we inject the vaccine we get a non specific response( the first little blip on the graph.)
  Two weeks later when the virus replicates this drives the immune system through the second phase of the anamnestic response (ref: Ian York) One dose of a MLV vaccine like parvovirus drives the immune system through both phases of the anamnestic response. It is not necessary to administer another dose. Another important thing this graph demonstrates is why we should not give vaccines two weeks apart. At the two week interval the immune system is at its peak response. Lots of non-specific inflammatory agents are stirred up. If we give another vaccine two weeks later we are more likely to get an adverse reaction and less likely to get a good immune response. Vaccines should be administered three or four weeks apart. An even  longer interval will work just as well. IF A CLIENT IS LATE FOR A VACCINE IN THE INITIAL SERIES, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO START OVER.
  Please don’t give us the vaccines two weeks apart.

Last Update 05/05/2006

Bob Rogers, D.V.M.
Copyright  06/04