Onset of immunity

Interval between vaccination and boarding

The minimal interval between vaccination and boarding should be based on the following criteria:

  • Onset of immunity of the vaccine used
  • Incubation time of the disease(s) vaccinated against
  • Has the animal been vaccinated before?

If an animal has been previously vaccinated, and the most recent vaccination is still in date, there will be no ‘gap’ in the protection, and in principle, the animal could be boarded immediately after it has been vaccinated.

If the animal has never been vaccinated before, or the previous vaccination is out of date, the onset of immunity of the vaccine is important, as well as the incubation time of the disease. The incubation time of most infectious diseases is seven to ten days, which means that for the first seven to ten days after the animal is infected, no clinical signs are present. Because of this, it is difficult to be sure that an animal is not carrying disease. To avoid boarding animals that are at risk of carrying disease, establishments should allow time from vaccination to onset of immunity, plus the incubation time of the disease. It is therefore recommended to advise owners whose animals are not protected by earlier vaccinations to vaccinate their animals at least 14 days before boarding.

Example: the onset of immunity of the Bordetella bronchiseptica fraction of one UK Kennel Cough vaccine is three days, the incubation time for kennel cough is 7 to 10 days. If an animal is vaccinated at 1200 on January 1st, it may not be fully immune until 1200 on January 3rd. In a worst case scenario the animal could be infected at 1100 on January 3rd and still show signs of kennel cough infection up to 10 days later on January 13th. Therefore, for unvaccinated dogs or lapsed dogs, ideally they should be vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding.

Shedding of vaccine after vaccination

In the past kennels have refused to board animals within 14 days of vaccination with a live vaccine to avoid shedding of vaccine organisms to other animals in the kennel/cattery. There is no need to do this. The authorities in the UK will only license a product if the manufacturer has shown that there is no shedding of vaccine organisms after vaccination, or in case that shedding does occur, this does not result in problems for in-contact animals.

Emergency vaccination during an outbreak

In the case of emergency vaccination during an outbreak of infectious disease, the vaccine with the shortest onset of immunity should be chosen. The manufacturer of a vaccine should be able to supply information on this subject. For example, trials have shown that the onset of immunity of one of the kennel cough vaccines on the UK market is not more than 72 hours, the most rapid proven onset of immunity for a kennel cough vaccine.

vaccines immunity onset dog and cat image