The following 9 letters-to-the-editor on Senator Hall's proposed pet vaccine disclosure legislation appear in this week's Lincoln County News which hit the newsstands on August 4th. Thank you for everyone who has responded so far. There are more letters which the paper has received, and I assume they will be printed in next week's issue.
In order to sustain momentum, please send in a letter-to-the-editor (short is still effective -- see the Gordons' letter below) to The Lincoln County News at email@example.com
or fax it to (207) 563-3127. Please be sure to put "Letter to the Editor" on the subject line and include your phone number for verification (it will not be published in the paper).
Many, many, many thanks for your support. If we can get this passed in Maine, I believe it will trigger a nationwide trend.
Cheers, Kris Christine
(1)To the Editor
I am so thankful for the swift and comprehensive steps Senator Hall has made concerning the pet (over) vaccination issue. Full disclosure involving any healthcare practice can only be a win-win situation for doctor and patient/client. Hopefully, I may soon be able to sheepishly step forward to have my dogs licensed. I have avoided this act for years because I knew the rabies vaccine label to read a 3-year recommended duration between revaccination. Our family also had a pet acquire a malignant tumor at the rabies vaccination injection site, so I chose to break the law rather than adhere to the perceived state mandate of rabies vaccination every two years. Instead of taking the bold steps necessary to change the law, I took the law into my own hands by vaccinating every three years and avoiding my town office. Thanks again to Senator Hall.
Susan Giglia, D.C.
(2) Dear Editor,
I am puzzled by the letter you published last week from William Bell, the
Executive Director of the Maine Veterinary Medical Association, who equates
a legislative attempt by Chris Hall to provide pet owners with information
that will prevent over-vaccination of animals with election year
campaigning. I know we are getting into the silly season, but this is
Mr. Bell complains that a Lincoln County News story did not "present our
point of view" and then, having been given the opportunity to do just this,
fails to present it himself. It would be more helpful to pet owners who are
not familiar with the issues if, instead of trying to politicize this
matter, he explained why his organization opposes Chris Hall's measure
which has the laudable intention of preventing unnecessary vaccinations.
What is wrong with this?
(3) To the Editor
Mr. Bell’s response to Kay Liss’ article, Senator Hall Pushes for Full Disclosure on Pet Vaccines reminded us of the May 20th panel discussion of the subset of the Rabies Working Group at which his organization’s president and lobbyist, Dr. Bill Bryant, was the lone voice resisting amendment of Maine’s flawed 2 year rabies immunization regulation to meet the 3 year standard recommended by all national veterinary medical associations and colleges, all rabies vaccines manufacturers, and adopted by 46 other states. Mr. Bell’s organization favored overvaccinating dogs for rabies and appears reluctant to adopt the reduced vaccination schedules for other core vaccines advised by all 27 veterinary colleges
We do research on the Internet, as Mr. Bell alludes, which is how we discovered his organization’s website. The Internet is an effective tool for disseminating information that might otherwise not come to light – such as the fact that unnecessary vaccinations overwhelm an animal’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to disease. If Mr. Bell employed the Internet, he could have read Kay Liss’ other articles on pet vaccines which included comments from the following veterinarians: Dr. Christine Welch, Dr. Laurie Horwarth, Dr. Donald Hoenig, Dr. Robert Gholson, and Dr. Christine Fraser. It is our understanding that Ms. Liss contacted another local veterinarian for comment for her recent article, but the call was never returned.
DVM, the Newsmagazine of Veterinary Medicine is an enlightening veterinary trade journal accessible on the Internet. They have devoted an entire link of professional articles to the vaccination controversy, which is raging nationwide.
In an October 2002 DVM article. AVMA, AAHA to Release Vaccine Positions, it states that the “AVMA [American Veterinary Medical Association] admits that the practice of annual vaccinations is based on historic precedent and not research.” In its July 1, 2003 article, “What Do We Tell Our Clients,” it reports that after having adopted the annual vaccination habit, many veterinarians consider any change to be a “practice buster” and “fear the loss of [their] vaccine hook”. A major concern expressed in several other DVM articles on the vaccination controversy is how vets can repair their credibility after their clients come across data conflicting with their vaccination schedules. However, nowhere in those articles is the scientific basis for the reduced vaccination guidelines of the American Animal Hospital Association disputed.
Veterinarians using annual vaccinations as a tool for getting clients in the door have ignored the challenge studies Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine has conducted since the 1970’s showing extended durations of immunity for most veterinary vaccines. They have also chosen to disregard the 2000 Report of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and Academy of Feline Medicine Advisory Panel on Feline Vaccines as well as the 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines of the American Animal Hospital Association. The current practice of annual vaccinations for diseases such as distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis, which is not based on scientific research, gained favor among vets in the 1980’s, and because it enhanced revenue, practices grew, and it became an accepted way of doing business.
Senator Hall has proposed this pet vaccine disclosure on behalf of his numerous pet-owning constituents and is working with the nation’s leading expert on vaccine challenge studies, Dr. Ronald Schultz. Mr. Bell should explain his organization’s position on Senator Hall’s proposed legislation which will require veterinary vaccine disclosures similar to disclosures required for consumers’ prescription drug or real estate purchases. Otherwise, the public will be left assuming that Maine’s Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) opposes clients having detailed information about the vaccines administered to their pets. Should the public also assume that MVMA opposes informed consent? Have Mr. Bell and the 312 veterinarians making up the MVMA considered supporting Senator Hall’s disclosure legislation in order to prevent a crisis of confidence in their profession?
Overvaccination is a pet health and consumer protection issue, not a partisan one. Informed consent protects the public, their pets, and veterinary medical care providers.
Peter and Kris Christine
Alna, ME 04535
(4) To the Editor:
Many thanks to local resident Kris Christine and reporter Kay Liss of the Lincoln County News for an exceptional piece of investigative reporting on the controversy over the redundancy and health hazards of pet vaccinations.
As a dog owner of many years, with pets of all breeds, non-breeds, and dispositions, I know that many people share my concern for the welfare of our four-footed friends and companions. After reading Kay Liss's well-researched articles which included numerous diverse interviews and solid scientific findings, I think the public has a clear right to full disclosure of benefits and risks, and to legislation which supports a more conservative use of vaccination protocols. Such reasonable legislation in the public interest is pending in Maine, and I support and applaud Senator Chris Hall for backing this measure on behalf of all of us who love our animal friends. The veterinary community, dedicated and hard-working people who have our pets best interests at heart, should likewise embrace this legislation as crafting a reasonable position in light of the emerging research.
Again, congratulations to the News for your excellent reporting and to all those who have helped to raise this issue.
Belva Ann Prycel
Alna, Maine 04535
(5) To the Editor:
Because clarity has been not forthcoming about veterinary vaccines for dogs and cats, we would like to know at least the significant facts so that we could make a sensible choice.
David and Ellen Gordon
(6) To the Editor:
It has come to my attention that State Senator Chris Hall hopes to introduce a bill into the upcoming legislative session that the full disclosure of information on vaccines be provided to pet owners. I'm assuming the need to introduce such a bill means that this information is not already being made available readily to the public. For shame! Whether you agree or do not agree with the issue of vaccinations or how often to do them, no one should be unwilling to support the disclosure of information to the public and/or pet owners who have the right to make informed decisions of any kind, in this case: concerning vaccination. By not supporting this "right to know" it gives the appearance of needing to hide facts, which, in this day and age, I hope all agree, is a sorry position to take. Does the public or individual no longer have the right to make an informed decision? Are we going backwards or ahead? Would any members of the Legislature feel justified in taking this right away from its citizens?
Please support the right to know, whatever the circumstance.
(7) To the Editor:
Vaccines damage people and animals. The theory behind vaccines is not proven science. The fillers used in the vaccine to preserve it are toxic to humans and animals.
If it is possible for you to promote a healthy open debate on vaccines, I would be grateful. I legally treat animals in Australia and unfortunately, some are damaged by vaccines -- e.g., have epilepsy following vaccination with recommendation to euthanasia, i.e., bury the mistake. This is not right in the 21st century in democratic countries. The USA is a health trend setter, let it lead the way forward in this debate for others around the globe.
Sharon Bridgeman, Practitioner of Acupuncture
(8) Dear Lincoln County News:
As a pet owner and livestock farmer, I am regularly dependant on accurate information for their health and welfare. I applaud anyone’s attempt to open up discussion and discovery on these topics. Thank you Kris Christine and Chris Hall for going the extra mile and getting this discussion of over-vaccinating out for us to investigate.
Lucy Harrington a.k.a. the Alpaca Lady
(9) Dear Editor:
I am writing in response to the current controversy of over vaccination of pets, specifically with regard to
Rabies vaccine requirements in the State of Maine. This issue was raised by a family in Alna whose dog was diagnosed with a
cancerous tumor shortly after receiving his 2-year Rabies vaccine booster.
Maine is one of a great minority of states in this country that doesn’t follow
vaccine manufacturer’s recommendations of boosters every 3 years, but
rather dictates the timing based upon some rationale involving licensure
issues -- basically, every 2 years. The vaccine, after initial
vaccination and a one-year booster is prescribed by the manufacturer as a
3-year vaccine... that being the case, who can decide to override that?
Legislators? Based upon what study information?
The research is endless and supported by well respected veterinary
organizations. Senator Hall has proposed legislation requiring disclosure statements for veterinarians to present
to their clients with respect to the risks and benefits involved in all pet vaccinations as a
response to over vaccination. I am wondering, for my own pets as well as those of
our many customers, why the Maine Veterinary Medical Association hesitated to support correcting the Rabies vaccination regulation. Or why they didn't call (seems obvious) for all state licensed veterinarians to follow rabies vaccine manufacturer's
specifications explicitly. Why haven't they quickly offered full support for Senator Hall’s disclosure legislation?
Veterinarian Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin’s School of
Veterinary Medicine has done many vaccine studies on duration of vaccine
immunity. His studies and many others show evidence of immunity lasting
several years in dogs and cats for all vaccines, not just the rabies vaccine.
Some practices have already adopted the practice of extending time
between re-vaccination in an effort to avoid potential health risks of over
vaccination as well as to save clients unnecessary expense. Annual check
ups are a great practice and, as many articles suggest, should be the focus
of the veterinary visit rather than repeated, unnecessary vaccines that may
result in health risks rather then good preventative care.
As an owner of a boarding kennel, as well as many loved pets, we look to our
veterinary care providers to be the leaders in recommendations for
schedules of vaccines and health care. We do not want to be giving any
discrepant or confusing advise to our clients. Nor do we want to give them
advise that, according to many leaders, researchers and educators in the
field, seems contrary to proper pet health are. We are already accepting pets
with vaccines given at longer intervals and are thrilled to do so. We believe,
and will support, as schools do with children, that an annual check-up is
paramount to maintaining good health, but we are asking that all
veterinarians re-examine the issue of over vaccinating and change their policies
in the path recommended by their organizations, associations and schools.
I looked to our own association in the boarding industry, the American
Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA), for their position on this issue. They
have taken a very passive role by requiring the following of its member
kennels... ‘’Dogs on premises [must?] have current vaccinations for DHLPP and
Bordetella. (DHLPP & Bordetella requirements may be waived upon written
recommendation from pet’s veterinarian. Hard copy to be kept on file.” and
‘Cats on premises must have current vaccinations [for?] FVRCP. (FVRCP
requirements may be waived upon written recommendation from pet’s
veterinarian. Hard copy to be kept on file.) Typos belong to the ABKA, not
me! I was disappointed to find another leader in the field reluctant to step
forward and support the national research and recommendations available.
We ask that all Maine's pet owners investigate these issues with your veterinarian
and offer support for Senator Hall's veterinary vaccine disclosure, which will benefit pet owners statewide!
Peg Wheeler BS, LVT
The Critter Barn Inc.
Berwick, ME 03901