Vaccines artificially induce active immunity by stimulating the production of anti bodies against a specific disease causing organism. As long as the antibody level remains high enough in the body, the antibodies can attack and trounce a disease organism that attempts to invade. But because this protection wanes over time, your pet needs periodic booster shots throughout its existence to maintain an adequate level of antibodies in the system. Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate vaccination schedule for your pets individual health care needs.
- Passive immunity: A vaccination schedule begins when your pet is a “toddler”. “Kitten” or “puppy”. Newborn animals have passive immunity, which they acquire from maternal antibodies in their mother’s first milk, the colostrums. How long this naturally acquired passive immunity lasts depends upon the antibody level in the mother’s blood when the animals are born. This protection last from 12 to 16 weeks, but it may wear off as early as 8 weeks. Because newly born animals are highly susceptible to certain infectious diseases, initial vaccination at around six to eight weeks of age is recommended to ensure that youngsters remain protected. However, if maternal antibodies are still present in the youngsters system when it receives its first shots, those passive antibodies may render the vaccines ineffective. That’s why vaccination for common respiratory infections and canine/feline distemper are repeated at about 12weeks of age to ensure that they take, as well as to provide the young animals with continuous immunity as maternal antibodies wear off.
- Establishing initial immunity: Most veterinarians agree that the ideal vaccination schedule begins with giving kittens their first shot for upper respiratory infections and feline distemper at approximately 6 to 8 weeks of age. This is followed by a second injection at 12 weeks of age. All vaccination should be repeated to attain a certain amount of body titter that will boost the immunity of the animals and should be repeated yearly on schedule recommended by a veterinarian.