The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has a bit of a hot button issue on their hands right now, and it’s a situation that is being played out on social media. Horse owners in the Sunshine Coast and all across the country are expressing their concerns about the safety of the Hendra vaccine. The AVA is concerned that much of the information that is being spread online is in fact not accurate, and that horse owners who own animals in areas that are considered high risk may be making decisions based on the misinformation.
To this point, more than 300,000 doses of the Hendra vaccine have been administered to horses in an effort to protect the animals from the potentially deadly effects of the bat-borne virus. The AVA claims that the effectiveness of the vaccine has been good, and that side effects have been mild at worst.
Dr. Nathan Anthony, president of Equine Veterinarians Australia, says that he understands the concerns of horse owners when they hear about reactions to the vaccine. He also said that vets are used to hearing these concerns, as it is something that regularly happens with all kinds of vaccines. Of greater concern to Dr. Anthony are the comments being made across social media platforms. He is worried that horse owners in high risk areas may be basing their decisions on information that is not accurate.
He did admit that there were some side effects being experienced by horses after receiving the vaccination, with a stiff neck and temporary swelling the most common. He said that these reactions were no different than what people experience after getting a tetanus shot. The reactions experienced by the horses are both mild and temporary, and are a small price to pay for the lives that can be saved when using the vaccine.
If you are a Nambour horse owner who is concerned about the effects of the vaccine, you need to be aware of the proper stats before making a Hendra vaccine decision. Vets with practices across the country are reporting very few real issues with the vaccine, and those that do have taken the time to send a report to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to have each instance of an issue independently reviewed. The general consensus among vets is that the vaccine is indeed safe and effective, and should be considered a must if you own a horse in a high risk area or have traveled with your horse to one of those regions.
Dr. Brian Sheehan, an equine vet with 30 plus years’ experience, says that his practice has administered over 4200 vaccines, and is currently seeing the aforementioned side effects in 1 or 2 of every 500 horses. Those side effects have been temporary and always abate in a couple of days. The bottom line is that if you are concerned about the effects of the Hendra vaccine, it’s important that you discuss those concerns with your vet as opposed to believing everything that you read online.