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.”


  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. See 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 and
  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


    • Food Standards Agency
    • Veterinary Medicines Directorate