Often I've been asked about my thoughts on horse vaccinations. Thoughts on vaccinations, as do many homeopathic, holistic and natural practices such as "all forage diets," no stalls," no shoes" often cause quiet vigorous debates. I've resisted writing about vaccinations because it is so scary to so many horse lovers, owners and caregivers, I simply did not want to get into the debate. My own opinion though is we way, way over-vaccinate – to the health detriment of our horses (dogs, cats and children too).
|Kessy love kisses|
Recently I had the thrill, honor and privilege of interviewing Dr. Will Falconer, one of this country's most respected homeopathic veterinarians, for a story in Natural Horse Magazine. Like most homeopathic veterinarians his career began as doctor of veterinarian medicine. He is one of many homeopathic veterinarians or holistic practitioners I've interviewed over the years, and I've noticed a common thread of ideas, thoughts and concerns running through the minds of all these educated and experienced folks. In one way or another they all found they wanted to do better. They wanted to find ways to truly help their patients live healthier, more thriving lives. Another common thread running through all their comments during our interviews was their concerns about vaccinations. My interview with Dr. Falconer finally caused me to pen my thoughts on vaccinations.
I'll start with a quote from Dr. Falconer. "People simply do not relate or understand the harm that over vaccination does to the system. If there were one thing I could wave a magic wand and fix, it would be the attitude toward vaccinations." Dr. Falconer explained that repeated vaccinations impair and confuse the immune system.
"Most vaccinations for horses are for viruses, and veterinarian immunologists have proven scientifically that, once vaccinated for a virus, resulting immunity lasts a very long time, perhaps a lifetime." Dr. Falconer explained that repeated vaccinations not only confuse the immune system, but often cause it to turn on itself, and even attack healthy red blood cells.
"The horse is the most over-vaccinated animal, even more than dogs and cats, and repeated vaccinations do more damage than any other management practice. Repeated vaccination causes a plethora of ill effects that people fail to connect to the vaccine including allergies, skin conditions, thrush and even changes in temperament. These are long-lasting effects that take their toll. If people would just have one awakening in their journey to have a vital, thriving animal, I wish it could be that they would understand we now know, all vaccinations for viruses last a very long time, and repeated vaccinations to an already immune horse adds nothing, but it does compound the ill effects. In the late 1970’s, vaccine researcher Dr. Ronald Schultz discovered that rabies and the core vaccines last for the life of the animal in nearly all cases."
I chose to use Dr. Falconer's quotes because he succinctly put some of the concerns that I've heard many times from others. So many ailments in our horses can be linked to repeated vaccinations, as Dr. Falconer said above, and more than listed here. However, many veterinarians advise only, "Watch for symptoms for a few days," or words to that effect. While the truth is underlying chronic health issues that cause moderate to severe pain, lethargy, disinterest, or even poor temperament are chronic health issues related to vaccines that can show up weeks or months later and last a lifetime.
Worry about thrush, white line and founder? We all know that toxins in the horse migrate to the foot. There are toxins in vaccines that never really leave the body. Toxins put into vaccines purposely to "stimulate the immune response." If it were not so horrendous that phrase would be silly, reminds me of the equally silly oxymoron, "corrective shoeing."
Another problem with vaccinations is the way they short circuit the immune system. The immune system comes about 75% from the gut. Healthy digestive system, healthy immune system. But it is also supported by defenses throughout the body. The first line of defense is the nose, the throat and even tears. Each of these begins to attack the invader and signal the immune system to defend, attack and repel. Each of these areas of defense helps to educate and bolster the immune system. When we inject vaccinations directly into the body we skip all the front line defenses, thus robbing the body of that knowledge and power. Another thing Dr. Falconer, and others I've interviewed, said was how we are seeing so many horses coming up with wide varieties of allergies. Immunologists have linked this to confused immune systems.
“A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal…… Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response…. The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy…”EXCERPT FROM - Current Veterinary Therapy, Volume XI, published in 1992 (a very well-respected, peer-reviewed textbook that is updated every four years). The authors are veterinary immunologists Dr. Ronald Schultz (University of Wisconsin) and Dr. Tom Phillips (Scrips Research Institute).
Immunology has recognized for a great many years that viruses provide a long-lived immunity. This is why your physician is not sending you postcards to repeat your small pox or polio vaccinations annually.
So why do so many veterinarians prescribe and recommend repeated vaccinations? That is a question only they can answer. Money? Profit? They truly believe it is best for their clients? The interesting thing is how many of them are beginning to question it. The whole vaccine issue is so difficult to get a handle on. Veterinarians are not taught much about immunology, just as they are not taught much about nutrition.
Many horse owners struggle with peer pressure inflicting fear, self doubt. Or you need to vaccinate to show, do you really? Many folks believe they need vaccination certificates to travel, not true, I believe I'm accurate in saying no states require certificates of vaccination, only the Coggins test, and perhaps a veterinarian's health certificate. Some boarding barns require vaccinations, can this be negotiated? I would move my horse.
These are just my thoughts, I'm sharing them in the hopes you might think about it, and do some research of your own. There is plenty of information out there today. I believe in the "once is enough treatment for vaccinations." It is far better to learn how to help your horse build the strongest possible immune system that can defend against invaders, viruses included. Tetanus is the only vaccination that needs to be repeated every 7 years.
For me and my mare Kessy, she'll never have another vaccination, or shoe. Oh, and she has not been chemically wormed in 4 years either, just did a fecal count, no worms.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry