Equine Vaccination


A thorough physical exam and patient history is the foundation of developing an individualized vaccination strategy. Correct vaccine selection, storage, timing and administration are all key in providing adequate protection for your horse. Vaccines are given to an animal prior to exposure to the identified agent to stimulate the patient's own immune system When the patient is exposed to that agent in the future the body will be able to provide immediate protection thereby minimizing or eliminating disease. Immunity from a vaccination can provide partial coverage within a few days to a few weeks depending on previous vaccination status and type of vaccine used.


Core vaccinations are those that should be administered to all horses. They protect from diseases that are endemic to a region, those with potential public health significance, those that are highly infectious, and/or those pose a risk of severe or fatal disease.


The following are the AAEP's recommended core vaccinations:


  • EEE
  • WEE
  • Tetanus
  • West Nile Virus
  • Rabies


Risk based vaccinations are included in a vaccination program after the performance of a risk-benefit analysis. The use of risk-based vaccinations may vary regionally, from population to population within an area, or between individual horses within a given population. A risk assessment is performed during an annual physical exam.


AAEP identifies the following as risk based vaccinations:


  • Equine herpes virus
  • Equine influenza
  • Potomac Horse Fever
  • Strangles
  • Anthrax
  • Botulism
  • Equine Viral Arteritis
  • Rotavirus
  • Snakebite


Factors that must be considered during a risk assessment (AAEP):


Risk of disease (anticipated exposure, environmental factors, geographic factors, age, breed, use, and sex of the horse)

Consequences of the disease (morbidity/mortality, zoonotic potential)

Anticipated effectiveness of the selected product(s)

Potential for adverse reactions to a vaccine(s)

Cost of immunization (time, labor and vaccine costs) vs. potential cost of disease (time out of competition; impact of movement restrictions imposed in order to control an outbreak of contagious disease; labor and medication if, or when, horses develop clinical disease and require treatment, or loss of life.)


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