Immunizations: A Few Things Worth Knowing


Immunizations (“Shots”) are 100% ‘risk management’.

That means, we subscribe to a vaccination protocol to mitigate risks from various diseases which may be more or less common. You can skip shots for 15 years and never suffer a loss or exposure. Or you can miss the shots by two weeks and a cat contracts Rhinotracheitis. Yeah, real life.

So the mitigation of disease risk; is countered by the legitimate health risk of immunization, at all.

For example: Parvo is quite common. Reactions to the immunization are not common. Parvo kills puppies a lot. You should immunize.

Adenoviral infections are super uncommon: Reactions to immunizations are uncommon: Who cares if we immunize for that?

Viral Hepatitis infections are super uncommon: Reactions to immunizations are uncommon: Who cares if we immunize for that?

Leptospirosis is uncommon but on the rise. Reactions to the immunization are the most common (of the rare) reactions. Leptospirosis can be transmitted to people. Therefore despite a slightly higher risk of reaction, in a disease rarer than Parvo, you should immunize.

Annual immunizations.

Pop Up Vet Shot Clinics aren’t there for your dog’s health. They’re a pure-profit enterprise. These men and women aren’t practicing medicine. They’re pimping their licenses.

If everyone immunized annually for the diarrheas, I (seriously) would probably go out of business. My clinic caseload is a substantial amount of diarrhea. And while more and more shot-business fades out into AutoZone Parking lots and Waffle House sidewalks with ShotVet – vaccination is not as much of a “thing” to a clinic income-budget anymore, but all is not lost: The trend to immunize every three years and on card tables (even though a three year shot doesn’t even exist AND even though every country in the world requires annual shots for admission to their country) America is clinging to research from 1990 (and repeated in 1995) that showed that Parvo can’t kill adult dogs because of latent immunity*(see note).

The journalists (Dr. English-Major) ran with this ancient data (which needs to be revisited.) and declared to the country that shots can be skipped for two or three years –  which is JUST as empirical and ridiculous as asserting that ONCE a year is somehow a Holy Grail number. Frankly, no one really knows for sure.

Every country in the world requires annual shots for admission to their country.

Which brings me back to my original point: Shots are just Risk Management. 

1990 – 1995 What They Knew:

Antibodies indicate a disease; and the presence of antibodies means a specimen is either allergic to, reacting to, or carries immunity to the invader. Very simple.

2019 What They Know Now:

Antibodies to antigens may be present without immunity, infection nor allergy. Allergy may be present without antibodies. Mammals can generate antibodies to proteins without said proteins being regarded by the body as a disease, invader nor allergen. Mammals can generate antibodies to invaders and proteins and not be successfully immune to them at all. “Cut-and-dried” comments and assertions such as you see on the internet and without context can be disastrously erroneous.

*About putative Latent Immunity:

They’ve figured out that the presence of antibodies does not mean a pet has immunity to a disease. They figured out that just because you and I have antibodies to milk proteins makes us neither allergic nor intolerant. Food allergy cannot be predicted or diagnosed from the presence of ‘antibodies’. Nor can immunity, because while Lyme’s vaccinated dogs are forever positive on antibody tests, they can still be reinfected. The exact same holds true for Bordetella bronchiseptica antibody-versus-immunity disconnects.

So when (WAY BACK 30 years ago) Dr Schwartz predicted that Parvo wouldn’t kill dogs because they had antibodies years after immunization, he never clarified whether they’d get spewing diarrhea when exposed, whether they die or not.

And they do get spewing diarrhea; and they do NOT die.

Here’s another example. The media sets you up to skip Corona immunization because some dogs have antibodies because they’ve already caught some variant, some dogs aren’t vulnerable to Coronas, and some dogs only get spewing diarrhea but DO NOT DIE. Since they don’t die and some already have antibodies, the USA Today journalists’ argument is ‘skip it.’  (“Thank you, Dr English-Major!”)

And so my doors stay open. Treating diarrheas resulting from Dr Google and Dr. English-Major who assures people that immunizing against said diarrheas regularly is unnecessary. And Vets who may be asleep at the wheel and aren’t reading the fine print or keeping up with human immunology are just ‘going with the flow’. And that’s fine too. I used to do that.

So since the dogs don’t die either way, I figure if the client prefers to trust television Vets, Dr. English-Major and Dr Google and immunize on the three year, I can’t argue much, since the dogs do live and I truly don’t want to make anyone feel stupid. I just tell them that my dog Ajax is immunized annually and that’s that. I’ll treat the inevitable diarrheas. Or if they’ll immunize on the annual as a more rigorous version of risk-management, the clinic is sustained and they get a thorough physical exam every 12 months which is helpful to diagnose early growths, heartworms, changes in body shape, metabolism and identification of certain endocrine disorders that show up later in life.

I feel salty today. I’m sorry.

Doc Johnson






For Your Consideration:

Johnson Vet Services 2019