Dodds Reviews the 2020 AAHA/AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines

Veterinary immunologist and hematologist, W. Jean Dodds, has reviewed the combined American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) vaccine guidelines. In her own words, “These new feline vaccine guidelines are simply outstanding!”

These guidelines draw on all the world guidelines and emphasize what the late Dr. Michael Day and others have stated: “Vaccines are part of an annual overall wellness examination and decisions need to be based upon the genetic and family background, an individual cat’s health and wellness, age, and the lifestyle risks and experience where they reside.“

The AAHA/AAFP Task Force recommends core vaccines against:

  • FCV (feline calicivirus)
  • FeLV (feline leukemia virus)
  • FHV-1 (feline herpesvirus type 1)
  • FPV (feline panleukopenia virus)
  • Rabies

The Task Force goes further:

  • listing the non-core vaccines and generally not recommended vaccines;
  • recommending where to give vaccines in the body;
  • timing the vaccines;
  • providing facts and recommendations on the types of vaccines available such as attenuated live (modified live), inactivated (killed), recombinant, parenteral (injection), and intranasal;
  • discussing antibody titer testing (a service performed at many laboratories, including Hemopet’s Hemolife); and,
  • providing different sets of guidelines for household cats and shelter cats.

The two sets of guidelines hinge on the FPV vaccine and the lifestyle of the individual cat. Lifestyle considerations include:

  • single or multi-cat household;
  • indoor, indoor-outdoor, or outdoor only cats; and,
  • travel, boarding, housing, and enrichment activities or excursions outside the home – even veterinary visits.

The Task Force stated, “In theory, strictly indoor cats may be more susceptible to developing some infectious diseases (such as FPV and FCV infection) than cats with outdoor access because they may not receive ‘natural boosting of immunity’ that occurs with natural exposure.” Meaning: strictly indoor cats should be vaccinated against FPV.

Other issues that are new and important:

  • The potential for longer maternally derived antibodies (MDA) in kittens (up to 20 weeks) vs puppies at 12-14 weeks — which necessitates a new recommendation based upon the WSAVA to booster kittens at 6 months of age — which then necessitates having them come back again 6 months later for annual FeLV and rabies vaccinations.
  • Vaccinate FeLV and FIV positive cats, and if living with other cats, vaccinate all cats. Same for shelter cats with incomplete or unknown exposure history.

To read the full publication please visit, “2020 AAHA/AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines”.

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