IMPORTANT UPDATE – CAT VACCINATION SHORTAGE GOING INTO 2024.
As you may have heard on the news recently, across Australia vets are experiencing a shortage of cat vaccinations. This started initially as a shortage in the optional Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukaemia Virus vaccines but has now increased to include the CORE feline vaccinations for Feline Parvovirus (Panleukopenia), Feline Herpesvirus and Feline Calicivirus.
What is happening?
The official story is that supply chain disruption caused by COVID and diversion of resources into human vaccines has made feline vaccines scarce. Please note that this only applies to cat vaccines.
When will it resolve?
Unfortunately, the expected arrival of more vaccinations keeps being delayed! The current update from our supplier is March 2024.
Which cats are affected by the shortage?
Cats who are due for F3 vaccines (Feline core vaccines: Herpesvirus, Calicivirus, & Parvovirus) in the first quarter of 2024, and new kittens needing their initial vaccination course during this time.
At this stage, if the shortage resolves when expected, we have enough vaccines for our currently due patients as well as our usual number of new kittens. To ensure we can offer protection to those that need it most, we will be prioritising vaccinating kittens and high-risk individuals. These include cats going into a group environment like a cattery, or with health concerns that our veterinarians decide would make them higher risk of exposure or consequence.
What can I do?
Please do not rush in! If you have an adult cat who is indoors and has previously been up to date on their vaccines, they are at a very low risk for exposure. If your cat falls into this category, we may ask you to delay your cat’s vaccination until the vaccine supply stabilises.
If your cat is overdue for vaccination, please do not be too alarmed. There are three easy ways you can reduce their risk of infection:
- Keep your cat indoors.
- Wash your hands and change in-contact clothing after patting cats from outside the home.
- Use pet sitters instead of catteries if you can.
Will my cat need a booster?
A common question is what we will do when vaccines are plentiful again. After a delay in vaccination, it is customary to need to give two boosters 4 weeks apart to re-establish immunity.
Whether this will be necessary will depend on the length of the delay, but also the needs of each cat. There are no fixed rules, but a good guideline would be as follows:
- No booster required if only a 3-month delay.
- Booster for 3-to-6-month delays in high-risk cats (outdoors, cat boarding, new kittens in the home)
- Boosters for all cats after a 6-month delay
The unpredictability of vaccine protection means that even the last point will be up for negotiation. This might especially apply to cats who have had many regular vaccines in the past, giving them a solid base of immunity.
We can also offer the option of an vaccination immunity titre test for your cat, which is a blood test sent to the laboratory which can determine if your cat has adequate immunity to the viral diseases the vaccination covers. If their immunity is adequate, then vaccination is not needed as urgently.
What we are doing at Mira Mar Vets:
We are following guidelines provided by the Australian Veterinary Association and compiled by feline experts to ensure we make the most of our limited supply and minimise harm to our patients, and the feline population. As we mentioned above, this means prioritising kittens and at-risk adult cats, and possibly delaying healthy adult boosters.
We are consulting with our vaccine manufacturers and suppliers to secure as much core vaccine doses as we can, and we are continuing to try and obtain definite dates on the supply.
Do not forget health checks!
Vets have always strongly encouraged cat owners to see the value in the regular checkup itself. From our perspective, these get increasingly important as a cat ages, but often it is still the annual vaccine reminder that prompts the visit.
At Mira Mar Vets, we are still encouraging cats to come in for their check if they have not had one in the past 12 months. We will give them their full physical examination, dental check, and discuss parasite control. Cats are experts at hiding illness, so despite the potential unavailability of the vaccines, please do not delay this crucial component of your cat’s health care.
How will I be updated?
We will be updating you of any news and the unfolding situation on our website, via our monthly email newsletter, on our social media channels (Facebook and Instagram), or you are most welcome to contact the clinic on 9841 5422 at any time to receive the latest news and discuss what this means for your cat.
Whilst we are doing everything possible to ensure that those most in need receive vaccinations, we appreciate that this situation may cause inconvenience to some pet families. We thank you for your patience and cooperation while navigating this shortage. Know that we are working hard to get your cat’s vaccinations back on track as soon as possible.
If you have any questions, or would like to book a health check for your cat, please contact the clinic directly on 98415422.