We understand that many of our clients are concerned about the restrictions that have been placed on the provision of vaccinations during the COVID-19 outbreak. We hope that the following information provides some of the answers and reassurance that you need.
Q – You normally recommend that we vaccinate our horses to ensure that their health is protected?
A – In normal circumstances, we recommend that you vaccinate for equine influenza (‘flu) and tetanus. However, we are observing Government advice and BEVA guidelines, and balancing horse health against the risk to human health from transmission of COVID-19. There are currently no active equine flu outbreaks in the UK. As there are also no equestrian competitions taking place and therefore horses are not travelling or mixing with other horses that are not on their yard, the risk of equine ‘flu being transmitted is significantly reduced.
Q - My horse’s annual ‘flu booster vaccination is due in the next few weeks. What is going to happen?
A - We will not be able to provide your horse's flu booster vaccination during the current COVID-19 emergency situation. Your horse will therefore become overdue for vaccination and will not comply with competition rules when events return.
Q - My horse competes under affiliated governing body rules and is due for a 6 monthly booster. What should I do?
A - Your horse is still protected against ‘flu and we will be able to give the booster as soon as the current lockdown has been lifted. If your horse’s booster falls within 12 months of the last vaccination you will not have to restart your horse's primary course of vaccinations.
UPDATE on 1st April 2020: the British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s cross-industry Veterinary Committee, in conjunction with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) have approved a proposal regarding the vaccination schedule for equine influenza in British racehorses and competition horses. The move has been made in order to help trainers, owners and vets tackle the significant logistical challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and provide clarity for all.
During the remainder of 2020, for a horse to be eligible to compete in Britain it will be necessary to have received an approved equine influenza vaccination within the last 12 months. This is instead of the existing nine-month requirement for horses competing under BHA rules and the six-month requirement for horses taking part in all competitive disciplines under the BEF umbrella. Full statements from the BHA and the BEF are available on their respective websites.
Q - My horse has recently had the first vaccination of their primary influenza course. What happens now?
A - The second vaccination in a primary course needs to be given within 92 days of the first vaccination. If the COVID-19 lockdown is lifted within this time, we will get to you as quickly as possible to give the second vaccination. If more than 92 days pass, you will need to start the primary vaccine course again.
Q - My horse has recently had the second vaccination of their primary course. What happens now?
A - The third vaccination in the course must be given 150-215 days (5-7 months) from the date of the second vaccination. If the COVID-19 lockdown is lifted within this time, we will get to you as quickly as possible to give the second vaccination. If more than 215 days pass, you will need to start the primary course again from the beginning.
Q - What about the cost of restarting my vaccinations?
A - When COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, we will be offering a vaccination 'amnesty' to get everyone back-on-track with their horse or pony’s vaccinations.
- For all clients having to re-start their primary vaccine course after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the first vaccine and visit fee will be at normal price. You can save on the visit fee by using our half price visit fee on 'Zone Visit Days'.
- The second vaccine will be free of charge, with no visit fee if this is booked on a Zone Visit Day, and there will be a reduced fee applied for the administration of the vaccine by the vet. At all other times, the normal visit fee will apply. Normal fees will apply to any additional work carried out during the visit.
- The third and subsequent annual or 6 monthly booster vaccinations will be charged at our normal price.
Q - What happens if I want to go out competing as soon as restrictions are lifted, but my booster vaccination has gone overdue?
A - As the rules currently stand for the respective governing bodies, you will not be able to go out competing again until 8 days after the second vaccination of the new primary course has been given. However, BEVA is in discussion with various regulatory bodies, requesting the temporary relaxation of these rules in view of the current situation. We will advise of any further updated news in this regard.
Q - What about tetanus vaccinations?
A - We recommend that all horses and donkeys should be vaccinated against tetanus, which is usually a fatal condition in the horse. The bacteria that cause tetanus are found in soil and can infect your horse or donkey if they get a wound or cut. The tetanus vaccine, unlike the flu vaccine, has a much longer effective protection time. We only boost tetanus vaccines every two years, and it is likely that horses are protected for up to 3 years after vaccination. Therefore, if your horse has had a primary vaccination course and annual boosters, they are likely to be protected. However, this should be considered on an individual basis and if you are concerned about this, please call us and speak to one of our vets on 01638 663150 (Newmarket clients) or 01462 790221 (Hertfordshire clients). If your horse has not had a tetanus or ‘flu/tetanus combination vaccination and sustains a wound, we will need to attend and give a tetanus anti-toxin injection to prevent tetanus.
We hope that this answers many of your questions, but if you have any questions or concerns that are not addressed here, please contact our veterinary teams on 01638 663150 (Newmarket clients) or 01462 790221 (Hertfordshire clients).
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