Ethical Considerations and Legal Concerns
Vet Economics or Animal Companions' Well-Being?
How many thousands and thousands of pets have died unnecessarily, had illnesses needlessly, and had their healthy longevity reduced because veterinarians knowingly failed to inform guardians of the three-year rabies option - and the risks and benefits of rabies vaccine?
should not allow politics and tradition or greed to enter the
decision (on frequency of vaccination). Changing vaccination schedules
doesn't have to mean less profit, but that you have more income
from some clients and less from others. Veterinarians and the
industry need to have guts to be honest with ourselves and assess
the risk and not be trapped in tradition."
Be Informed About Vaccine
to change our focus from yearly vaccination to that of a yearly
Should Be Informed About Vaccine Use. There are legal and professional
reasons to adequately inform clients about the vaccines practitioners
use in their patients. Clients should be informed about the relative
benefits and risks of vaccine use. They also should understand
that vaccination does not guarantee protection and they should
be informed about the potential adverse effects of vaccines. In
general, clients should receive sufficient information to enable
a reasonable person to reach an informed decision regarding an
animal's medical care."
final decision concerning individual vaccines to be administered
should be based on risk and benefit assessment by the client and
Clearly, there are responsible voices within the veterinary profession calling upon practitioners to kick their annual-vaccination-shot economic habit and to properly inform guardians about the benefits and dangers of vaccine use. A glance at the dates of the above articles show how little vets have listened, despite the clarion character of the calls.
What should be done?
1. The veterinary associations should launch a public information campaign, advising all companion-animal owners of the three-year rabies vaccination option. Advertisements in local newspapers across the country as well as print and broadcasting public-service announcements are suggested at a minimum.
2. Vets should answer client-guardians' questions about vaccinations and the vet's vaccination policies - questions such as those listed in the questionnaire found elsewhere on this website.
3. The veterinary associations must make non-notification by vets of the three-year vaccination option subject to suspension and/or revocation of license. Investigations should be made of known situations by the vet societies and state vet boards in the light of day -- with no gag orders or secrecy to determine a resolution of the situation and to impose sanctions and penalties where appropriate as a deterrent.
At vaccination time an Informed Consent Notification form would
verify that the vet has discussed the issues of vaccination with
the client-guardian. The Informed Consent form would be signed
by the vet and include the guardian's initials, affirming that
he or she has been informed of the following by the vet: