MVMA backs full disclosure for vaccines

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AUGUSTA, MAINE-The Maine Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) champions full disclosure of vaccine information to pet owners and is setting out to create a model form for practitioners.

AUGUSTA, MAINE—The Maine Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) champions full disclosure of vaccine information to pet owners and is setting out to create a model form for practitioners.

The move comes as state Sen. Chris Hall promises to introduce a bill forcing veterinarians to offer clients vaccine risk-assessment information. It's the latest action in a negative publicity campaign that's plagued veterinarians and state officials concerning a regulatory discrepancy forcing practitioners to abide by biennial rabies protocols.

"I think disclosure forms are a good idea and in fact, I have contacted some of the experts in the field to try to help me write a model in a good, plain English," MVMA President Dr. Bill Bryant says. "Obviously we'd prefer to take the initiative and get this underway on our own. However, if it goes before the Legislature, we'd likely support it. My goal is to get our information out as quickly as possible. We're trying to get around all this bad press."

Hindered by bureaucracy

The red tape surrounding the profession's support of three-year vaccine protocols for rabies stems from antiquated licensure laws that, due a renewal schedule, call for boosters every two years rather than the three-year standard.

While the issue remains convoluted from a regulatory standpoint, the public has accused veterinarians of supporting biennial vaccinations for financial reasons, deeming inoculations "cash cows."

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which issued a letter to practitioners addressing the unfavorable press, has proposed changes to the protocols, and, at presstime, state leaders scheduled an Aug. 31 hearing on the discrepancy between licensure and inoculation standards.

A positive spin

The controversy, fueled by activists who claim over-vaccination caused their dog's malignant skin tumor, brought about the call for disclosure. Unlike three-year protocols, supported by relatively recent science, Bryant fully supports disclosure and says forms can act as a tool to gaining well-informed clients.

"It's time for something like this to come out," he says. "I think that disclosure forms will be an important resource to have available to stimulate verbal discussions on vaccines' benefits and possible side effects."

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