The Great Vaccination Debate

By Laramie Winfield, DVM, DACVIM, cVA, CVMMP


Annual vaccinations are a large part of our preventative health strategy here at Steinbeck Peninsula Equine Clinics. As your veterinarians, we are happy to be one of your main sources of information concerning your horse’s health and vaccines. However, we also realize that many owners would like additional opinions and sources of information. While there are many excellent sources of information available to you on the internet, there are also many sources of information that are misleading, incorrect, and full of misguided advice. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) provides a compendium of sound information and Guidelines for Equine Vaccination.

Should you vaccinate your horse or not? An article from Horse & Rider titled "Vaccine Wars: The Great Debate" does an excellent job of answering many of the common questions we hear about vaccination and if it is necessary for your horse. We do recognize that some horses are very sensitive to vaccination and alternative vaccine forms and schedules may be best for those horses. Each horse and situation may benefit from a different protocol and we are happy to develop an individual plan for you and your horse.


Rabies is a fatal disease that can be transmitted to humans. Given the severity and significance of rabies infection it is included in the core vaccines recommended for horses. The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine offers more information in the article "Do Horses Need Annual Rabies Vaccination?"


West Nile is a mosquito born viral disease transmitted to horses causing neurologic signs, fever, and in 30% of horses is fatal. Given that available vaccines are highly effective at preventing disease and safe to administer we strongly support the administration of vaccines to protect against West Nile Virus. The California state government monitors new cases an offers a website with updates and more information on West Nile virus.


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