An optimal vaccination programme:
- Maximises the number of animals within the population that receive vaccination
- Ensures that only animals that have a realistic risk of contracting disease are vaccinated
- Minimises the total number of vaccinations each animal receives in a lifetime.
There is minimal benefit to be derived from vaccinating an individual with an antigen for which likelihood of exposure is low and where clinical disease is, in any case, mild.
In almost all cases puppies should be vaccinated against the major infectious diseases: distemper, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus (and probably parainfluenza virus) (DHLPPi). Puppies presented before 8 weeks can be vaccinated with DHLPPi using some vaccine brands, this is advantageous to allow early socialisation. The initial vaccination course can be completed after 10 weeks of age.
There is continued debate about the appropriate intervals for booster vaccinations in order to maintain immunity against the full range of infectious diseases in all individuals. Revaccination is generally required at intervals of 1 to 3 years against most diseases (this varies depending on the brand, and the disease for which protection is required).
Vaccination to protect against Bordetella bronchiseptica (one of the causes of kennel cough) is usually only carried out in at risk individuals – often just prior to entry to boarding kennels. The immunity produced by this vaccine does not last long and revaccination is required as often as every 6 months to maintain protection.