Editor's Note May 2013: We are now TEN YEARS later and despite ongoing demand for veterinary vaccine disclosure prior to administering any vaccination, we are no closer. Prominent Vets such as Patricia Jordan, DVM, CVA, CTCVH and Dr. Bob Rogers who filed a class action vaccine law suit, have been unable to upset the balance of power of the vaccine manufacturers.
VACCINE DISCLOSURE FORMS
Vets vs. Pet Owners in 2003 meeting
A hearing on a proposal to require veterinarians to provide disclosure forms on vaccines was standing-room-only in Augusta (Maine). Comments were fairly equally divided, with citizens in support on one hand and veterinarians opposed on the other.
The proposed act is the latest effort spearheaded by Kris Christine of Alna to correct what she views as flaws in state laws regarding the administering of vaccines to pets, dogs in particular. She recently was successful in bringing enough attention to discrepancies in canine rabies vaccination rules, which resulted in over-vaccination of dogs in Maine for 17 years, that the law was changed, extending the administering of inoculations from two to three years. Language exempting sick dogs from the requirement is soon to be added, due to the persistence of the Alna mother and dog owner.
This new proposal, initially championed by former Senator Chris Hall of Bristol, and presently by Rep. Peter Rines (D-Wiscasset), is an important next step, Christine believes, providing pet owners with scientifically-based information on which to make decisions on other routinely-given canine vaccines(parvo, distempter hepatitis) booster shot, recommended annually by vets. In her research into the rabies vaccines issue, she came upon information that suggested this booster vaccine was protective for much longer than a year.
First to speak to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forest Committee at the hearing, Christine began: "Many Maine veterinarians have failed to inform clients that most core veterinary vaccines protect for seven or more years, and pet owners, unaware that their animals don't need booster vaccinations more often, have unwittingly given their companions useless booster shots – taking an unnecessary toll on their finances and animals' health."
Her testimony was bolstered by information from various authoritative sources, including Dr. Ronald Schultz, a leading researcher and authority on veterinary vaccine. His studies formed the scientific basis of the American Animal Hospital Association's (AAHA) 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature, which stated: "We now know that booster injections are of no value in dogs already immune, and immunity from distemper infection and vaccination lasts for a minimum of 7 years based on challenge studies and up to 15 years (a lifetime) based on antibody titer."
In the American Veterinarian Medical Association's Principles of Vaccination literature, Christine further quoted, "Unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance, and may increase the risk of adverse post-vaccination events" including "autoimmune disorders, transient infections, and/or long-term infected carrier states. In addition, a causal association in cats between injection sites and the subsequent development of a malignant tumor is the subject of ongoing research."
Speaking in support of the bill, a social worker from Warren, Jennifer Pearson, said she was "baffled" by the resistance of the veterinarians to the disclosure forms. Just as peoples' rights are recognized to know the risks and benefits of drugs they take, so should the rights of pet owners be recognized in the vaccines recommended for their animals. Arnold Woolf, a dog breeder from Lewiston and an AKC judge, testified that the disclosure forms would provide a "safeguard" to dogs and cats. He added that he didn't see why supplying such a disclosure form should be a burden to vets, since pharmacists supply consumers a print-out of the pros and cons of drug they purchase without any trouble. Another breeder, Kay Sukforth of Sukee Kennels in Warren, commented that she thought the vets should welcome such a form, because it would protect them from possible lawsuits.
Dr. Bill Bryant, past president of the Maine Veterinarians Medical Association (MVMA), testified that vaccine protocols were in a "period of transition" and that the science is so complex and in a state of flux that it would be too difficult to provide a reliable and simple disclosure form. He said he didn't want to turn "our profession" into managed care. He also accused the Christines of carrying on a negative campaign against the veterinarian community.
When asked by a number of legislators why he had previously said he was in favor of the disclosure form legislation, having stated in a Veterinary News magazine article "It's time for something like this to come out … disclosure forms will be an important resource to have available, [and] if it goes before the Legislature, we'd likely support it," Bryant appeared hard pressed to explain. He did agree a usable form might be devised but did not support it being devised by a legislative committee but by veterinarian associations.
Other veterinarians claimed they were already giving their clients information about vaccines so didn't need to provide disclosure forms. A number claimed to be just like "James Herriot," the well-known veterinarian and author of "All Creatures Great and Small" who has become a symbol of the ideal, trustworthy vet.
A supporter of the forms, Laura Moon of Brunswick, appeared with her Jack Russell Terrier, who had a large tumor on its side. She urged legislators to pass a law so that people would have more knowledge of vaccines, and that possible side-effects of such vaccines might be avoided.
Legislators will convene a work session on the bill in about two weeks.
Source: Lincoln County News
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