Should Horses with Sarcoids be Vaccinated?


This might be quite controversial, but firstly I want to say I’m not suggesting you stop vaccinating, all I want is to raise an opinion that you can take forward to your vet & have an informed discussion with them regarding the continued care & treatment of your own horses & what is appropriate.

I’ve recently had an interesting conversation with a new Vet who has challenged the fact that Jasper has been receiving his annual Flu vaccine & by-annual Flu-Tet vaccine.

This has never been raised by any Vets previously, Jasper has been vaccinated by 3 different vets over the course of the last 8 years, during which time his sarcoids have been getting progressively worse despite various veterinary treatments (performed by the same vets vaccinating him).

The new Vets rational was plain in its simplicity, on the vaccine’s data sheet (information that is provided by the drug companies with all medications) it clearly states vaccines should only be given to “healthy” horses. He went on to say that it was completely impossible for Jasper with his sarcoids to be described as “healthy” & so he was not a suitable candidate to be receiving vaccination at this time in his condition.

To be honest I found this pretty shocking that no vet had at any point even mentioned this previously, despite the fact that he had been vaccinated just 3 months previously.

I felt even worse when we examined the photograph diary I have kept for the past 18 months which encompasses 2 vaccinations. I’ll attach them with this blog & you can make your own decision. The first Photo was taken on 9th March 2009, Jasper was then had his Flu vaccine on 2nd April 2009 and the second photo was taken on 20th April 2009. The pictures are a little graphic, so I apologise if anyone is a bit squeamish.
Equine Sarcoid

Equine sarcoid

For me its pretty clear within a couple of weeks of receiving a vaccination the sarcoids get much, much worse. Those already present, are aggravated & grow aggressively, new ones even appear at new sites not previously affected.

If I didn’t have photographic records it would be impossible to show this. Once could be written off as coincidence but twice seems that a pattern is forming in relation to the interaction between the vaccination, his immune system & the sarcoids.

I’ve thought about this more since & compared it to if I go to the Doctor’s to have a vaccine myself (I travel a lot so I’ve had extensive experience, to the extent sometimes I feel like a human pin cushion), the first question you’re asked is if you are ill, have been ill recently, do you have any existing medical conditions, if the answer is yes these are all considered & invariably a vaccination will NOT be given at that stage. Surely this should be the same with animals?

Since finding out about this, I’ve gone through a whole list of emotions, including guilt & regret that I’ve let Jasper down, by allowing him to be vaccinated while his immune system is so evidently compromised, whilst on every other aspect I’ve always acted in his best interest I feel on this I’ve failed him miserably & it is he that has suffered the consequences.

However a close friend to Jasper & I pointed out that I acted under qualified veterinary guidance & so cannot really take the blame completely on my own shoulders.

Knowing how I’ve felt in this situation, it is with this in mind that I wanted to put this information out there for all of you, so that you can have an informed discussion with your own vets regarding the suitability of you horse for vaccinations.

I’m not suggesting that you just stop vaccinating, but please keep this in mind & discuss your individual horse with your vets & if you feel you need it seek a second opinion.

It is our duty as owners to ask these questions & have informed discussion with our vets so that all of us can work together in our horses best interests.

With Love

Fiona & Jasper x



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