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In the past, the general feelings toward vaccinations was to vaccinate all animals for all diseases possible and to follow the vaccine manufacturers’ recommendations for yearly boostering of these vaccines. This practice has begun changing over the last several years because of the increased numbers of diseases for which vaccines are available, the heightened awareness of adverse reactions to some vaccines, and the realization that many vaccines provide immune protection lasting longer than one year. In the veterinary profession, there has been a gradual shift away from yearly revaccination in adult dogs and an increased attempt to vaccinate dogs only for diseases that they are at risk of being exposed to. This trend has now resulted in changes in regards to routine vaccination practices in dogs. The bold action of the American Animal Hospital Association in publishing new canine vaccination guidelines is evidence of this change.

The veterinary medical profession has done a very good job of educating animal owners in regards to the importance vaccinating their dogs to prevent many serious and life threatening diseases. Traditionally, this has meant giving the animal a series of "puppy shots" followed by yearly "booster" vaccinations. This practice was based on the current understanding of vaccines and immunology as well as vaccine manufacturer’s recommendations for frequency of revaccinating the animal. The recommendation for yearly booster vaccinations, which is and has been standard for all vaccine labels, is based on challenge studies that show disease protection for one year after the vaccine is given. However, these studies then stopped at one year. Initially, there was no research done on immunity in dogs beyond one year of being vaccinated. Yearly booster recommendations did not mean that protection halts after one year, but rather, they meant that protection beyond one year was unknown. Veterinary medicine is continually evolving based on scientific research and improved understanding of disease processes. This continued research and improved understanding has lead to a new understanding of the effects of vaccinations. The primary finding of newer research in canine vaccinology has shown that most, if not all, viral vaccines provide immunity well past the one year previously recommended. Based on this new knowledge, long accepted canine vaccination guidelines are changing.

The new guidelines, developed by the American Animal Hospital Association, put vaccines into one of three groups: core vaccines, non-core vaccines, and vaccines which are not recommended. Core vaccines are vaccines that every dog should receive. They protect against diseases which are prevalent, highly contagious, and potentially life threatening. Non-core vaccines are vaccines that some dog should get depending on the individual animal’s risk factors for exposure to the disease. These risk factors include age, geographic location (some diseases only occur in certain parts of the world), health status, and lifestyle (especially traveling and exposure to other animals). The vaccines in the "not recommended" group have little medical value. The basis of this assessment will be explained later in the article. Besides changes in what vaccines should be used routinely, the other major change is in the frequency of booster vaccinations for adult dogs. The core vaccinations should be boostered every three years instead

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