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Vets Urge Owners to Get Their Horses Vaccinated

25 September 2014
Australian Veterinary Association

AUSTRALIA - The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is debunking some misconceptions around the safety of the Hendra vaccine and reassuring horse owners that it’s the most effective and safest way of reducing the risk of infection.

“With more than 200,000 doses of the vaccine administered to horses across Australia, the vaccine’s safety and efficacy has been well established,” said Dr Nathan Anthony, President of AVA’s equine group, Equine Veterinarians Australia.

“Some owners express concerns about vaccines, but they’re important weapons against emerging viruses like Hendra.

“It’s important to understand vaccine reactions. If we receive a vaccine as humans we expect to have a sore arm for a couple of days after vaccination, but this is temporary and preferable to contracting a potentially lethal infection,” said Dr Anthony.

“It is a similar story for horses. Some horses may have a sore neck for a day or two after receiving this vaccine, but it’s no cause for alarm and doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the vaccine.

“While more serious reactions are possible with any vaccine, they occur in a tiny percentage of horses, and we haven’t seen any deaths or even any serious reactions attributed to the Hendra vaccine. Only 0.27 per cent of doses administered have had a reaction reported, with the vast majority of these being site reactions that resolve with little or no treatment.

“It’s important for owners to rest assured that reactions to all vaccines are reported through the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority,” Dr Anthony explained.

“Everyone needs to keep some perspective on Hendra virus. It’s a deadly virus, and it’s the virus we should fear, not a vaccine that can potentially save the lives of horses and humans,” Dr Anthony added.

The Hendra vaccine is available through accredited veterinarians. Horse owners should contact their veterinarian to arrange vaccination.

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or

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