Preventing disease is a primary goal for general-practice veterinarians. It's time to better explain why they're important to pet owners, to make it easy as possible on pets and to help clients understand that vaccination is not as bad as they thinksay, with low-volume vaccines?
Nobody likes getting a shot. But do you like herd immunity and disease prevention? Yeah, me too. (rodimovpavel/stock.adobe.com)I like to prevent, I like to vaccinate. And given how effective vaccines are, I'm always confused why some pets have to go through a terrible illness-some dying-and putting humans at risk, all while a simple vaccine could have prevented it. I practice in an endemic area, and there are still practices that haven't made the leptospirosis vaccine part of their core vaccines. Then I'll be at a meeting and hear some talk about having an outbreak, and all I can think is, Why? I also live in an area that's currently dealing with a human measles outbreak. Come on!
I like to prevent, I like to vaccinate. Vaccines today from reputable manufacturers have very low reaction rates. This isn't your grandpa's breeder's leptospirosis vaccine that they still warn new puppy owners about. I have no problem giving six vaccines to a dog under 5 pounds. My whole career I've used 1-mL vaccines. The trick with clients is always to explain the importance of these vaccines. Once clients understand the importance of the vaccines and agree, many are surprised in the exam room that their pet just received them. Using Fear Free techniques, as I talk, the dog is chowing down on soft treats, soft crackers, marshmallows or cereal and has no idea they've even been poked several times. For cats, no problem-the nice-smelling shrimp or salmon treats do the trick.
Now I can't promise treats work for every pet-for me, it's about 50/50-and some get wise to my tricks after a visit or two. But finding the right treat or location or holding technique that works for that individual patient and documenting it in the record goes a long way towards giving vaccines in a quick way. Regardless of the volume of vaccine I'm using, it's quick. It takes no longer than I can say, “Buddy, would you like some spray cheese?”
Clients afraid of vaccines?
Here's a sample script that could get out of the woods and back to better patient care.
One possible way to make vaccines more palatable to pet owners is the low-volume vaccines that manufacturers have put on the market the past few years (for example Elanco's ULTRA Duramune). A 0.5mL vaccine is less volume to give. A smaller volume could be a little quicker for a veterinarian to administer. Also, the smaller volume may appear less worrisome to the client, especially the owner of a smaller pet.
A client has never asked me specifically for a low-volume vaccine, but if compliance is an issue for you, other doctors in your hospital or your clients, giving a low-volume vaccine could increase that compliance.
It's worth exploring. Like I said before, I like to prevent, I like to vaccinate.
Dr. Andrew Rollo is an associate at Madison Veterinary Hospital in Michigan.
*Editor's note: This article was updated on September 12, 2019 to reflect the correct Elanco product, ULTRA Duramune (previously misidentified as "Duramune"). We regret this error.