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7 Reasons why vaccines fail


Vaccines are fragile, biological preparations. Incorrect storage and handling can inactivate vaccines. Seven common mistakes in vaccine handling are discussed.

  1. Pickup-itis – the vaccine after purchase remained in the pickup. It was never administered to the animals.
  2. Thrifty-itis – the modified live vaccine bottle still has a few doses left in it. We can save it until the next animals need to be vaccinated. Modified live vaccines lose their effectiveness in only a few hours after being reconstituted. They cannot be saved for later use. Even killed vaccines that are already mixed are sensitive to storage conditions. They cannot be “saved” for future use unless stored according to label instructions.
  3. Windowsill-itis – the bottle of vaccine after partial use was set down on a barn windowsill. Exposure to strong sunlight and heat destroyed all of the vaccine's ability to stimulate an immune response in an animal. Summer sunlight and heat on a truck tailgate, or up on a concrete wall where the heifers can’t reach while we are vaccinating, will ruin vaccines in less than an hour.
  4. Too-much-water-itis – The directions for reconstituting say to add only water that is supplied to the powder. But, if I add extra water, the bottle will vaccinate several additional animals. To be effective, vaccines depend on an accurate dose of the antigens.
  5. Store-the-syringe-in-the-bottle-itis – Since we always use the injectable vaccine and a syringe at the same time, it’s just a handy thing to stab the contaminated needle back into the bottle. After we have jabbed a dirty needle into the once-sterile vaccine several times we have pretty well contaminated the entire bottle.
  6. I can’t-be-bothered-to-give-the-booster-injection-itis – Doc recommended giving two doses two to three weeks apart. But, all the heifers look healthy so they are probably immune to whatever heifers get. Most vaccines require a first injection to promote strong immunity in naive animals. Once the initial reaction is completed in two to three weeks the booster injection of vaccine creates a stronger and longer lasting immunity.
  7. One-vaccine-fits-all-itis – This vaccine seems to have prevented (fill in illness). Maybe it will work to prevent (fill in different illness). Wrong! It is true that a few vaccines do cross protect against more than one pathogen. But there are many different kinds of pathogens. Matching the vaccine and the pathogen is the best insurance for effectiveness.