Vaccines can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether, and today, a variety of vaccines are available for use by veterinarians. Any treatment carries some risk, but these risks should be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet from potentially fatal diseases. An uncommon but serious adverse reaction that can occur with injection sites, including those sites where vaccines are administered, is tumor growth (sarcomas), which can develop weeks, months, or even years after a vaccination.
Although the risk of feline injection-site sarcomas (FISS) is small, progress has been made over the years to help reduce that risk even further. There are some helpful resources, such as the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ Guidelines, that reflect recommendations on vaccinating cats in consideration of the cat’s specific needs, local epidemiologic factors, and in line with manufacturer directions. And today, veterinarians and owners alike expect vaccine labels to reflect accurate revaccination needs. Much of what is commonplace today was recommended by a Task Force that studied this issue and produced a report in 2001:
- aggressive treatment for injection-site masses that met specific criteria,
- vaccination as a medical procedure to be performed only after careful assessment of the needs of the patient, rather than as an automatic act dictated by the calendar,
- use of the vaccine in accordance with the manufacturer’s label, which is information approved for use by the US Department of Agriculture,
- encouragement of single-dose vaccines and use of nasal and topical vaccines,
- standardized sites for injection