Advantages and Disadvantages of Vaccinating Animals

Vaccines are among the biggest inventions in the history of medicine. It has paved the way for preventing many infectious and deadly diseases among humans as well as animals. But there has certainly been a lot of controversy around it. The topic of vaccinating animals is no different. So here is a quick look at their benefits and challenges.

WHAT IS ANIMAL VACCINATION?

Vaccination is the process of administering a vaccine to fortify the immune system of a living being. Animal vaccination is simply the act of injecting an animal with a vaccine for the purpose of immunization. These animals could be domesticated pets or livestock or even wild animals. In other words, vaccinating animals help in making them healthy and strong. Louis Pasteur, a French biologist & chemist, was the first person to create an animal vaccine for chicken cholera with the help of laboratory testing.

With a considerable increase in people keeping pets as well as more rearing of livestock, the need for vaccinations has increased. In 2017, consultations for gastrointestinal disease constituted on average 19 per 1000 weekly consultations in cats and 29 per 1000 weekly consultations in dogs. A report also suggests that the veterinary vaccine market may be valued at USD $9 billion by 2024. Certainly, this only goes to show the increase in demand for the same.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Vaccinating Animals

ADVANTAGES OF VACCINATING ANIMALS

Prevention of Diseases

The biggest advantage of vaccination of animals is that it helps in preventing diseases. It is an important factor in maintaining good animal health. Like any living being, animals are susceptible to deadly diseases. Different kinds of bacteria, fungi, and parasites are major causes of diseases and infections in animals. For instance, tick fever, pneumonia, viral diarrhea, rabies, skin lesions, and arthritis are some types of diseases in animals and livestock.

Once the vaccine is introduced into an animal, it stimulates the immune system of the animal without them actually dealing with the disease. This helps their immune system remember the infectious agent that was injected into the body and gives adequate protection against future diseases. In other words, you put the antibodies in place with the anticipation that when the disease-carrying agent comes in contact with the animals, it is protected.

In addition to the prevention of diseases, vaccination has helped in successfully eradicating them as well. For example, a fatal disease among livestock, Rinderpest, was completely eradicated in 2011. Hence, animal vaccination has been beneficial in more ways than one.

Cost-Effective

Apart from being an important survival tool for animals, vaccinating animals has been cheaper on the whole. The vaccines in itself are quite inexpensive. Apart from that, it also helps in preventing the disease from community spreading. As a result, the cost of treating more animals with the said diseases get eliminated. So, it is one of the most cost-effective and sustainable ways of dealing with diseases, especially fatal ones.

Innovative Research

Animal vaccinations are a reality due to cutting-edge research and innovation. It is a lengthy process that requires time, investments, and qualified professionals. Research and development is the reason for better animal health as well as welfare. As a result of the continued efforts of researchers, there is the development of safe and effective medicines or vaccines for animals. Therefore, more emphasis and funds should be allocated towards animal vaccination research.

Benefits Human Health

Vaccinating animals does not only prevent diseases in animals but also humans too. Zoonotic diseases or zoonosis are infectious diseases that are passed on by animals (non-humans) to human beings. For example, rabies, ebola, and swine flu are zoonotic diseases. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is also rumored to have been spread through an animal like a bat or a pangolin, though there is no conclusive proof.

As a result of the inter-connection between animals and human beings, efforts are ongoing to control it over the years. A concept known as “One Health” was initiated by the One Health Initiative Task Force (OHITF) to attain optimal health for people, animals, and our environment. Hence, animal vaccinations have a huge role to play in human development too.

Protects Livelihood

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), livestock supports the livelihood of about 1.3 billion people worldwide. Additionally, it contributes to forty percent and twenty percent of total agriculture output in developed countries and developing countries respectively. Livestock producers can also cut down on treatments for infections because these animals will already be vaccinated against them. So, there is also an elimination of the cost of acquiring antibiotics. Moreover, these agricultural communities rely on animal products like milk, eggs, and meat for their survival. Hence, vaccinating animals plays an important role in protecting livelihoods as well as the global economy.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Vaccinating Animals

DISADVANTAGES OF VACCINATING ANIMALS

Side Effects

Many vaccinations can cause side effects on the animal. These can be in the way of an infection, rashes, or even an allergic reaction. Additionally, other common side effects are coughing, fever, swelling of the area, etc. This can be a result of the animals being allergic to certain components in the vaccine. It could even be because of a manufacturing glitch in the making of the vaccine. Therefore, proper testing and strict regulatory guidelines have to be put in place to ensure safe usage of the vaccines.

Inaccessible

Though vaccines are cost-effective, the problem lies in its availability and accessibility. Small-scale livestock producers have difficulty in procuring these vaccines for their animals, especially in developing and under-developed areas. So, the reasoning of it being cost-effective is essentially moot. Because the ones who should be benefitting from the cheap vaccines do not have access to them. As mentioned above, a large chunk of the world’s population relies on livestock. So, there is a need for herd immunity to be in place to prevent any outbreak of infectious diseases.

Difficult to Develop

Working on innovative research and funding them is important but it does not always achieve the intended goal. Animal vaccinations that are effective are very difficult to develop. It takes a considerable amount of time, money, and effort. And sometimes, they end up being unsuccessful. This is due to the fact that vaccine development is complicated and nuanced. Studying the intricacies of the pathogen as well as the disease is a strenuous process.

Criticisms

Vaccinations have had their fair share of criticisms and controversies. It is a billion-dollar industry and hence, prone to misuse as well. There have been incidences where animals and pets have been administered with unnecessary vaccines just for the billables. Certain animal vaccinations show no conclusive proof of fighting against diseases. In fact, oftentimes animals do get the disease even if they have been vaccinated.

To sum up, the advantages of vaccinating animals far outweigh the disadvantages. Because at the end of the day, prevention is better than cure. Make sure to vaccinate your pets regularly and do your research and ask questions to your veterinary doctors for related information.

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Pros and Cons

PROS

CONS

Prevention of Diseases

Side Effects

Cost-Effective

Inaccessible

Innovative Research

Difficult to Develop

Benefits Human Health

Criticisms

Protects Livelihood