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Vaccination – Get It Right

The vaccination of the first animals against Bluetongue virus has been very much in the farming – and indeed public – eye this month. It has been welcomed as a major breakthrough in fighting disease and securing good farm animal health and welfare.

But of course Bluetongue is not the only disease that can be prevented by vaccination, and cattle and sheep are not the only species that can benefit. All cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry can receive the benefits of vaccines to prevent them breaking down with disease. However for this to be as effective as possible vaccination must be done RIGHT.

To this end, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) has launched a check list to ensure the RIGHT Animals, receive the RIGHT pre-vaccination Management, and RIGHT Handling, using the RIGHT Vaccine, with the RIGHT Vaccine Care, and RIGHT Timing, using the RIGHT Route, at the RIGHT Site and the RIGHT Technique.

The Director of RUMA, Dr. Tony Andrews, says that: “The messages of vaccination are the same whatever the disease to be immunised against. If the vaccine has not been stored properly and used in the field properly then it will not be as effective or could even be ineffective.

“If animals are not healthy or well nourished, or if they are stressed, you cannot expect the vaccine to work properly.

“It is essential always to check the vaccine’s SPC (Summary of Product Characteristics – better known as the Datasheet) before starting vaccination – however well you think you know it. Changes occur or you may pick up on something that you may have otherwise missed.

He added: “If you do everything right then you will gain maximum protection for your animals and so ensure a maximum economic return for your vaccination programme.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. For further information contact Dr Tony Andrews at RUMA on 01438717900, or email info@ruma.org.uk.
  2. RUMA (The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance) was set up in November 1997 to promote the highest standards of food safety, animal health and animal welfare in British livestock farming. It launched the original cattle guidelines in June 2000. Since that time the guidelines have been used as part of farm assurance schemes. There are also RUMA guidelines for the responsible use of antimicrobials in cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep and fish. See www.ruma.org.uk for more information.
  3. RUMA is a non governmental non profit making organisation which includes members at all stages of food production chain. Amongst its aims is “To establish and communicate guidelines which describe “best practice” in the use of medicines.”
  4. The checklist has also been included in the EBLEX bluetongue vaccination advice at www.eblex.org.uk and www.abm.org.uk
  5. RUMA’s members are:
    • Agricultural Industries Confederation
    • Animal Health Distributors Association
    • Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority
    • BPEX and EBLEX
    • British Egg Industry Council
    • British Poultry Council
    • British Retail Consortium
    • British Veterinary Association
    • City and Guilds
    • DairyCo
    • Dairy UK
    • Game Farmers’ Association
    • LEAF
    • National Beef Association
    • National Farmers’ Union
    • National Office of Animal Health
    • National Pig Association
    • National Sheep Association
    • NFU Scotland
    • Red Tractor Assurance
    • Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers
    • RSPCA
    • Royal Pharmaceutical Society

    Observers

    • Food Standards Agency
    • Veterinary Medicines Directorate

Making the most of vaccination – RUMA guidelines help show the way

With new livestock diseases like Blue Tongue Virus already in the UK and the prospect of potentially more to come, vaccination is in everyone’s minds. Farmers and veterinary surgeons are reminded that the RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance) vaccine guidelines, available free of charge from the RUMA website are there to help make the most of vaccination to keep animals healthy.

“National outbreaks of disease in a number of species has quite correctly opened up the issue of the use of vaccination to control or prevent diseases,” said RUMA director Dr Tony Andrews. “It is not RUMA’s remit to enter the debate as to whether or not vaccination in a particular disease should be undertaken. However, as RUMA’s name implies, its aim is to ensure that any medicine is used effectively and responsibly to ensure the best possible outcome for the health and welfare of the animal, the safety of the public who consume foods from British animals, and to ensure minimal impact on the environment.

“Vaccines are the main method of controlling diseases present or likely to become present on an individual farm – or in a region or country. In circumstances where it may be impossible to keep infections out, they are the best possible example of ‘prevention being better than cure’ in veterinary medicine.

“The many vaccines currently in use help ensure the health of our farm animals by ensuring that diseases which would otherwise be present do not occur or are reduced in their severity. This reduces the need for the use of antibiotics and other medicines to treat illnesses and again means that consumers can be assured that they are eating food produced from healthy animals,” Dr Andrews added.

“However, effective vaccination requires an understanding of what the vaccine will do. Users need to know how to look after the vaccine correctly before and during usage, how to administer it properly and how to dispose of any waste materials after vaccination. This is important not only for the health and welfare of the animals themselves, but also for the health of the famer’s business. If all this is not done properly the farmer who has committed his finance and labour to undertaking vaccination will not receive the true cost benefit of the vaccine(s) used.

Dr Andrews said: “It is thus timely to remind farmers – particularly those in the sheep and cattle sector – about the RUMA Guidelines on the Responsible Use of Vaccines and Vaccination,” said Dr Andrews. “Farmers and vets can obtain copies of both the short (basic) and long guidelines on the general principles of vaccination and vaccines in farm animal production, as well as specific ones for sheep and dairy and beef cattle production. Needless to say there are others produced for the other main food producing species – fish, pigs and poultry.

“Perhaps the best news is that they are FREE and can be downloaded from the RUMA website,” he added.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. For further information contact Dr Tony Andrews at RUMA on 01438717900, or email info@ruma.org.uk.
  2. RUMA (The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance) was set up in November 1997 to promote the highest standards of food safety, animal health and animal welfare in British livestock farming. It launched the original cattle guidelines in June 2000. Since that time the guidelines have been used as part of farm assurance schemes. There are also RUMA guidelines for the responsible use of antimicrobials in cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep and fish.
  3. RUMA is a non governmental non profit making organisation which includes members at all stages of food production chain. Amongst its aims is “To establish and communicate guidelines which describe “best practice” in the use of medicines.”
  4. RUMA’s members are:
    • Agricultural Industries Confederation
    • Animal Health Distributors Association
    • Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority
    • BPEX and EBLEX
    • British Egg Industry Council
    • British Poultry Council
    • British Retail Consortium
    • British Veterinary Association
    • City and Guilds
    • DairyCo
    • Dairy UK
    • Game Farmers’ Association
    • LEAF
    • National Beef Association
    • National Farmers’ Union
    • National Office of Animal Health
    • National Pig Association
    • National Sheep Association
    • NFU Scotland
    • Red Tractor Assurance
    • Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers
    • RSPCA
    • Royal Pharmaceutical Society

    Observers

    • Food Standards Agency
    • Veterinary Medicines Directorate
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