Vaccines are one of the most notable, life-saving medical innovations. Thank you Dr. Jenner. They rank right up there with anesthesia, antibiotics and hand washing. Thank you Drs. Morton, Fleming and Lister. The ability to give a small dose a replica of a deadly germ to teach the immune system how to fight off the true threat is really amazing. People no longer have to worry much about dying of smallpox or polio. Similarly, we rest assured that our beloved pets are protected from dying of parvo, distemper and several other diseases.

A vaccine works by activating the immune system so that antibodies are made to recognize the various viruses and bacteria that cause disease. The activated immune system works hard to prepare its response for the invasion. With this activation can come some mild changes in the body. Ideally the white blood cells are just busy doing their thing and there are little outward noted signs of the important accomplishments going on within the immune system. Mild fever and lethargy of the patient may accompany this or even soreness at the injection site. This is a minimal consequence to the alternative of dying of a horrible disease. Occasionally an immune system can get over-activated and over-respond to a vaccine. This can result in allergic reaction, anaphylaxis (which can be life-threatening), and severe illness from the vaccine. Felines, being medically peculiar in almost every way, actually risk developing cancer from some vaccines.

Luckily with vaccine science advancements it is possible to mitigate the risks of unwanted side-effects. Scientists have been able to use recombinant DNA technology, viral engineering and a host of other advanced techniques to make both safer and more effective vaccines. For instance, the risk of a cat developing cancer from a vaccine is nearly eliminated by re-engineering the vaccines to no longer need harsh additives to secure immunity.

At Dedham Veterinary Associates, we are dedicated to providing only the safest, gentlest and most effective vaccines. We understand that some of the improved vaccine technology comes with a little higher price tag but we feel that it is worth it to take advantage of medical advances to avoid reactions and cancers. Our pets are members of our families and we want what is best for them. Besides choosing only the safest options, choice of which diseases to vaccinate for in light of lifestyle, and timing of vaccines can greatly reduce risks. After all we are giving vaccines to keep our pets healthier so we will always advocate for the safest option.

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