Keeping Your Vaccines Viable | Your Cattle

Keeping Your Vaccines Viable

By: Tracey Erickson, SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist

Vaccines are a vital part of keeping all livestock healthy. Vaccines help in the prevention of disease, which results in less utilization of antibiotics due to fewer sick animals. Vaccines provide protective immunity approximately 21 days following the initial vaccination in the majority of livestock. Some vaccines may require a booster vaccination(s) to ensure immunity for the period designated by the manufacturer. There are multiple factors influencing immunity, including but not limited to, medical history, vaccine type, method of administration, age, and species being vaccinated. A valid Vet-Client-Patient relationship will help you as you select the vaccine of choice for your livestock health program.

So how do vaccines become worthless? Proteins are the major components of the organisms that make up both killed and MLV vaccines. Proteins are denatured by the interaction of two major factors: time and temperature. In addition, most common disinfectants will render modified live organisms inactive. So the anti-bacterial soap or even city or rural water, which contains chlorine, can have an effect on vaccines, when residues are present in your syringes or transfer needles. Thus, rinse with distilled water which is near the boiling point.

Purchasing and Use Considerations of Vaccines

Check expiration dates and make sure you can use it before it expires. For MLV vaccines purchase smaller dose instead of larger dose vials, which will enable using the vaccine in a shorter time period. Also remember to purchase an adequate number of needles and plan on replacing the needle about every 5-10 head of cattle. Do not straighten a bent needle, replace it!

Transporting and Storing Vaccines

Check the recommended storage temperature, and use a cooler while transporting and while vaccinating to keep the vaccine at the recommended temperature and also to minimize exposure to sunlight. Typically this temperature is between 35 degrees to 45 degrees F unless the product label advises otherwise. Check your refrigerator’s temperature periodically to assure that it is working properly and is keeping the vaccines at the correct temperature.

While Working

Keep vaccines in a cooler with ice packs in summer or possibly hot packs in winter if it is too cold. (Check vaccine labels for proper storage temperature.) Don’t mix more MLV vaccine than can be used in 30 minutes. If using MLV vaccines, only rehydrate the vials either one at a time or as they are needed. Make sure you are using a clean transfer needle and use only the diluent supplied by the manufacturer to rehydrate the vaccine. Always use a brand-new needle to draw up the vaccine into the syringe. When using needle-free injection systems, or syringes that draw doses from a tube attached to the vaccine bottle, care should be taken to assure the bottle and tubing stay cool and shaded from sunlight.

Discard any mixed MLV vaccines that are not used, as they are only viable for about an hour or two after reconstitution. Discard any partial bottles of inactivated vaccine that have been contaminated by dirty needles. Return unmixed MLV and unused inactivated vaccines to proper storage as soon as possible.