This article discusses the emergence of 3-year vaccine protocols, the science behind this switch, and uncomplicated ways to integrate the novel protocols in small animal practice. Extended vaccination protocols are supported by current vaccine challenge studies and are recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and by other prominent professional societies. Limiting the frequency of vaccines may decrease the incidence of both long- and short-term vaccine reactions. Vaccine companies have modified their products to fit into extended protocols, and 3-year vaccines are available for canine distemper, adenovirus-2, parvovirus, feline herpesvirus-1, calicivirus, and panleukopenia; efficacy of these products is guaranteed. The most important component to such a switch is education of the entire hospital staff. Protocols can be designed to avoid significant reductions in revenue and still allow for annual visits. Communication should be designed to facilitate a seamless transition. Basic advice regarding the switch includes knowledge of science, staff training, client education, and appropriate practice of veterinary medicine.

This article makes a good case for adopting 3-year vaccination protocols for core viral diseases of dogs and cats and provides advice on successfully making this transition. This is sound advice for normal healthy pets in typical home conditions. However, it is important to remember that the various expert panels have also recommended that vaccine protocols may need to be modified for individual animals under certain circumstances. For example, dogs and cats entering high-risk situations, such as animal shelters, should be vaccinated more often, preferably a couple of weeks before entering the situation. If that is not possible, they should be vaccinated upon entry. In addition, vaccines are licensed for use in healthy animals. Their safety and efficacy may be reduced in animals that are parasitized, have undergone surgery, are stressed, or have infectious disease. Vaccines should be given after these conditions have resolved. Animals with immune-mediated diseases are at greater risk of adverse reactions to vaccination. Vaccines should be used in these animals only if the risk of disease is judged to outweigh the risk of vaccination. Serology can be used as a tool to help decide when revaccination is necessary for the core vaccines in animals with increased risk of adverse reactions. If all other animals in contact with the high-risk animals are vaccinated, the need to vaccinate high-risk animals is reduced. In summary, the veterinarian must still exercise judgment and be willing to make exceptions to the standard vaccination protocols used in his or her practice.

Make the 3-year switch: Successfully implementing 3-year protocols. Andress MH. NAVC PROC 2009, pp 605-607.