Tips to Maximize Benefits of Vaccination and Treatment
Robert Tremblay, D.V.M.,Health Management Section,
After you and your veterinarian have established a vaccination program
or treatment protocol for your farm, there are several general steps that
you can take to ensure you get the most benefit from the program:
1.. Be sure to read the label. Look for the following information:
a.. the purpose of the vaccine or drug
b.. instructions for preparing the vaccine or drug. For example:
the proper method to reconstitute vaccines.
c.. the route of administration. For example: im -intramuscularly,
in the muscle
d.. sq - subcutaneously, under the skin
e.. the proper dose
f.. For example: 2 ml of a vaccine or 3 ml/ 45 kg body weight
g.. the timing of treatment. For example: some vaccines require 2
doses given 3-4 weeks apart.
h.. safety information
i.. For example: the labels of some vaccines indicate that the
vaccine should not be used in pregnant cattle.
j.. storage recommendations
k.. For example: some vaccines and drugs should be refrigerated or
protected from freezing.
l.. withdrawal times
m.. expiration date
2.. Do not combine vaccines or drugs to make your own combinations
unless the vaccine or drug labels say to do so.
3.. Be sure vaccines and drugs are adequately mixed. Large bottles
of vaccines and drugs should be inverted regularly to be sure they stay
4.. Mix only enough vaccine to last for an hour or less.
a.. Vaccines lose potency within hours after mixing.
b.. Use transfer needles or designate a "mixing" syringe for
mixing that is not used for injecting cattle. This reduces the chance that
the vaccine will become contaminated.
c.. Discard any leftover vaccine.
d.. When not in use, store vaccines in a cool place.
5.. Choose the right sized needle.
a.. Use 16 to 18 gauge needle
b.. Use 1/2" to 1" needles for subcutaneous injections
c.. Use 1" to 1 1/2" needles for intramuscular injections
d.. Change needles often at least after every 10 uses or sooner if
the needle becomes burred, bent or broken.
6.. Eject air from the syringe after loading it with vaccine or
7.. Restrain the animal.
a.. Prevent injury to yourself, people helping you and the animal.
b.. Reduce the risk of breaking off needles.
8.. Select a proper injection site (see diagram).
a.. In adults, good sites are the neck muscles for intramuscular
injections and the skin over the side of the neck or side of the chest for
subcutaneous injections. In calves, good sites for IM injections are the
hamstring muscles. In suckling calves, don't use the neck muscles because
sore neck muscles can prevent calves from sucking the cow.
9.. Inject the correct volume.
a.. Inject only as much drug at one site as recommended on the
b.. Split large volumes over may sites. If there are no
recommendations on the label, inject only 10 ml in any single intramuscular
site or 20 at any single subcutaneous site.
10.. Use the right technique.
a.. Pull back on the plunger and look for blood before you give an
injection to make sure you aren't in a blood vessel. If you are, move the
needle slightly and check again.
b.. To give a subcutaneous injection, put the needle in a "tent"
of skin by lifting the skin and inserting the needle under the skin.
c.. Don't try intravenous injections without getting advise and
training from a veterinarian.
11.. Keep yourself and your equipment clean.
a.. Use hot water only to clean syringes used for modified live
b.. Use hot water or a mild disinfectant to clean syringes used
for bacterins and killed virus vaccines.
c.. Wash your hands before and after handling medicines.
12.. Keep records of treatments for individual cattle.
Each animal should be individually identified and all treatments given
to each animal should be recorded.
For more information... contact Robert Tremblay, D.V.M. at:
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Last Updated: June 25, 2001