How do Vaccines Protect my Cat?
Vaccines do not inject a miraculous shield against disease. They work by fooling the body into thinking it is threatened, thereby stimulating the body's own defense system into producing antibodies to fight off the invader. Vaccines are made from either killed viruses or weakened viruses (modified live - MLV), and can be given individually, although some serums are often given as a group (multivalent), e.g. the "3-Way, " or FRCP. (See page 2 for more information on multivalent vaccines.)
Vaccines are most commonly given by injection, although several new intranasal vaccines have been developed, which are recommended by the VAFSTF where available.
After the initial "kitten shots," boosters are given to boost the cat's defense system. Traditionally, veterinarians have asked owners to bring their cats in for annual boosters, along with their annual well-cat checkup, however times are changing and many veterinarians are moving to an every three year protocol, with some exceptions.
In 1996, due to increasing concerns about tumors found at the sites of certain vaccinations, a Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force (VAFSTF), consisting of representatives from American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS), researchers, clinicians, and government representatives, was formed to study this phenomenon. Their published results included certain vaccines as "Core Vaccines" (highly recommended for all cats). Another group was listed as "Non-Core and Not Generally Recommended" vaccines. Most of these latter vaccines are only recommended for cats "highly at risk." Please refer to the AAFP Protocol List for the most current information on these vaccines.
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