Handle Vaccines Properly

Proper vaccine handling and storage helps maintain the product’s effectiveness and ensure pig safety when administered.

Maintaining herd health is of utmost importance to any successful swine operation. An infectious disease outbreak can cause economic devastation, and full recovery of a herd can take months. 

“Vaccines are vital to disease prevention,” said Lucina Galina, DVM, managing veterinarian, Pork Technical Services, Zoetis. “But simply adhering to a stringent vaccination program does not ensure animals will be fully protected. Other factors contribute to a successful disease prevention program, including storing, handling and administering the product.”

Vaccine storage

Vaccines can lose their effectiveness if not stored at proper temperatures. Always store vaccines in a refrigerator with an airtight door and thermometer so the temperature can be checked regularly. For most products, the temperature should be between 35°F and 45°F.

Store vaccines in the center of the refrigerator, not in the door or at the bottom. The temperature in these areas is unstable and can affect the temperature of the vials. Place vials in order of their expiration date. Do not store other food or beverages in the refrigerator, and ensure it is cleaned monthly. Keep a record of this cleaning. 

Before you vaccinate

Prior to administering vaccinations, calculate the amount of doses you will need. Inspect each vial to ensure it has not been tampered with or broken or has changed colors. Verify that it is the recommended temperature, and gently shake the vial to mix.

“The most important thing to do before you vaccinate any pigs is to assess their current health status,” Dr. Galina said. “Sick pigs might not get the full protection the vaccine offers if they already are fighting a disease or bacteria. If you have pigs that are sick, discuss the vaccination protocol with the herd veterinarian.”

In the pen

Gently shake the vial between administrations, and be careful not to contaminate the remaining doses. Use sterile or thoroughly cleaned needles to avoid transmitting the disease among animals or pens.

Use the appropriate needle based on the size of the pig. Change needles often to reduce the risk of injuries. Review the recommended pigs-per-needle guidelines with the herd veterinarian.

Safety first for you and the pigs

“Stress can reduce the immune system’s response and could result in loss of vaccine effectiveness,” said Dr. Galina. “Keep pigs calm and reduce other stress factors on the day of vaccination, such as multiple pen movements, excessive handling or transportation.”

Use proper technique to administer the vaccine in the correct area of the pig’s neck. Position the needle and syringe perpendicular to the neck.

If you accidentally inject yourself or another caregiver, thoroughly wash the wound with water, contact your doctor and report the incident to your manager and Zoetis representative.

Following protocol

Zoetis provides a full line of vaccines that help prevent disease. There also are helpful on-farm resources, such as posters that display proper handling, storing and administration techniques. Ask your local Zoetis representative how you can obtain these helpful visuals to ensure you’re providing the best disease prevention program for your pigs.

About Zoetis
Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. In 2014, the company generated annual revenue of $4.8 billion. With approximately 10,000 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2015, Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in 120 countries. For more information, visit www.zoetisUS.com.

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