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.


  1. For further information contact Dr Tony Andrews at RUMA on 01438717900, or email
  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


    • Food Standards Agency
    • Veterinary Medicines Directorate