FARMING: Covid situation is similar to outbreaks in animals

The long awaited vaccine for Covid 19 has appeared and then like a bus, three come along at once.

'The Covid situation is so similar to many disease outbreaks in animals over the years.'
'The Covid situation is so similar to many disease outbreaks in animals over the years.'

Now we just need as many people as possible to be vaccinated to get the herd immunity required to slow down the spread of infection. The Covid situation is so similar to many disease outbreaks in animals over the years; we are constantly reminded of our own experiences as vets.

Currently the highly pathogenic (H5N8) avian influenza outbreak is causing lockdown of all our poultry. Unfortunately, without a vaccine the only way of controlling a new strain of virus is to cull infected birds to stop the spread. Foot and mouth disease was until Covid, the most memorable virus outbreak in the UK. It did stop the country moving briefly and stopped sporting events and locked down the countryside. There has never been a vaccination policy against foot and mouth although if there is another outbreak it is more likely that a vaccine policy would be implemented.

We have had new diseases appear in farm animals such as Bluetongue and Schmallenberg virus. Vaccines have been swiftly produced for these new diseases and control has been achieved quite quickly.

It is impressive how quickly the Covid vaccines have been produced and distributed. The storage temperatures have been well documented as has the vaccination interval.

This has highlighted correct use of vaccines, which is something we vets are regularly reminding clients of all domestic species. Fortunately, few of our vaccines have to be stored at -70 degrees but they all have to be kept in the fridge, which is important right up to the time of administration. Freezing of vaccines is not recommended so a reliable fridge is needed for storage.

Some vaccines do require a primary course of two vaccinations including the Covid 19 vaccinations. The interval between the two doses is well documented and is interesting how the interval has been extended to allow more people to get one dose. We often have discussions with clients where the interval for a course has varied from the licence recommendations. The truth is all vaccines are different and the best practice is to stick to the manufacturer recommendations as closely as possible.

What is important is that the second dose is given within the recommended window and not missed, as the immunity will start to reduce.

There has been quite a lot of discussion about vets being mobilised to help with the vaccination programme and some vets have applied for the roles.

I think the majority of patients of all species will be relieved that most vets will be continuing with vaccinating their own patients.