Vaccination is the process of administering a vaccine to a human or animal aimed to increase their immune system’s ability to fight infections. Animal vaccination has been a matter of public concern for decades because many human diseases originate from animals, and animal disease prevention is essential to improving public health. Despite some controversies surrounding vaccination, it is considered to be the most effective method of controlling infectious animal diseases and preventing their transmission to humans.
Vaccines are medical products that trigger protective immune responses and prepare the immune system to fight future infections. They contain an agent that is similar to a disease-causing microorganism, which is recognized by the immune system as a threat and stimulates the production of antibodies (“Vaccinations,” n.d.). Vaccination is considered to be the most effective method of infectious disease prevention, widely used both in human and veterinary medicine.
In veterinary medicine, vaccines are used for immunization of domestic, livestock, and wild animals. The main goal of livestock vaccination is to improve production and prevent the transmission of zoonotic and food-borne infections to consumers (Tizard, 2019). Vaccination of wildlife is generally considered only in respect to infections that are transmittable to humans. Companion animal vaccines, on the other hand, aim to protect the health and well-being of individual animals.
Advantages of Vaccination
Vaccination is a procedure that both has benefits and is connected with a number of risks. The main advantage of vaccination is its effectiveness in the prevention of diseases in animals and their transmission to humans. For example, dog vaccination for rabies, a lethal viral disease which is primarily transmitted by infected animals, is considered by World Health Organization (2020) to be “the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people” (para. 2). In the United States, the vaccination program led to the decline of human rabies death from around 100 per year in the 1900s to one or two annually since 1960 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Vaccination programs are organized in a number of regions of the world where animal-transmitted infections are still widespread. It is the most effective way to prevent the development and spread of many dangerous diseases.
Another benefit of vaccination is its positive effect on animal health and well-being, which is a matter of particular concern for pet owners. Domestic animals are susceptible to a number of diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, most of which can be prevented by vaccination (“Vaccinations,” n.d.). According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (“Vaccinations,” n.d.), vaccination improves pets’ quality of life by helping them stay healthy and avoid illnesses. It also helps to reduce veterinary costs and stress experienced by pet owners when their companions are ill.
Disadvantages of Vaccination
The main disadvantages of vaccination are risks and adverse effects. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies four types of adverse events associated with vaccination: vaccine-induced events, vaccine potentiated reactions, programmatic errors, and coincidental events (Tizard, 2019). The most common vaccine-induced effects include “residual virulence and toxicity, allergic responses, disease in immunodeficient hosts, neurological complication, and harmful effects of the fetus” (Tizard, 2019, p. 116). Vaccine potentiated reactions are events that may have been caused by the vaccine, while programmatic errors are events which occur in response to technical errors in vaccine storage, preparation, handling, and administration (Tizard, 2019). It can be concluded that vaccines can cause a number of negative reactions of different nature, and their use is not entirely free of risk.
Another disadvantage of vaccines is connected with criticism and controversies surrounding their development and distribution. Vaccine opponents claim that billions of dollars are invested into their development primarily with the aim to generate profit, and many vaccines are distributed despite being ineffective or producing negative side effects (Tizard, 2019). Public concerns are mainly caused by the lack of knowledge of the development and testing processes and the lack of trust in vaccine producers (Tizard, 2019). Despite being mostly unsubstantial, these opinions are spread and exaggerated in social networks, leading to many people deciding against the vaccination of their pets.
Animal vaccination is a controversial issue which affects both human and animal health. I personally disagree with its opponents, who claim that vaccination is associated with many adverse side effects, and some vaccines are distributed despite being ineffective. These opinions are mainly based on a lack of awareness and are not supported by facts. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, serious reactions to vaccination are rare, and the risks are outweighed by the benefits of protecting one’s pet (“Vaccinations,” n.d.). I think that vaccines are effective in preventing diseases in both animals and humans, which has been proved by multiple studies. They have positive effects on the domestic animals’ health and well-being, saving pet owners from unnecessary stress and additional veterinary expenses. I believe that vaccination is a safe, reliable, cheap, and effective way of protecting animals and humans from many dangerous diseases, which significantly helps to improve public health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Rabies in the U.S.
Tizard, I. (2019). Vaccines for veterinarians. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Vaccinations. (n.d.). AVMA.
World Health Organization. (2020). Rabies.