When we spend valuable time and money on vaccinating our cattle to prevent important diseases, we should ensure that the vaccine is handled and administered correctly. This will ensure the vaccine is effective and safe for your animals as well as protecting your investment.
Vaccines come in two types: modified live and killed. They are both vulnerable to destruction by improper handling or stale dating. It is important to read and follow the label very carefully. Make sure your vaccines are not expired – they will have an expiry date on them. It is also a good idea to record the lot number and expiry information in your records in case there are any problems.
On the day of processing (administering the vaccines) try to take only the vaccine that will be used that day out to the site. Store them in a cooler to prevent overheating or freezing and only take out or mix one bottle at time. A thermometer placed in the cooler to monitor temperature of the vaccines is a good idea. While the day is progressing you can monitor the vaccines to make sure they do not get overheated or frozen. Try to keep them between 2 degrees Celsius and 7 degrees Celsius. Keep them out of sunlight whenever possible. Once vaccine is mixed, it is only good for a couple of hours. Do not keep any vaccine that has been mixed but isn’t used. Always use a new needle when removing vaccine from the bottle - if you use a dirty needle it can introduce bacteria or contaminants to the vaccine.
Make sure automatic syringes are clean and sterilized before every use. A dirty syringe can not only introduce abscess forming bacteria, but they can cause vaccines to be ineffective. Take apart syringes after every day of use, remove seals and rubber components, and wash in hot water. Do not use soap or disinfectants as they may leave residues that will destroy the vaccine the next time you use them. A general procedure for cleaning automatic syringes is:
1. Clean syringes in a dust free, clean area. Wash hands and ensure countertop is sanitized.
2. Wash using hot water, distilled if possible, at a temperature of just below boiling (180F, 85C)
3. Wash external parts and surfaces of syringes.
4. Disassemble syringes.
5. Wash syringe parts with clean hot tap water (remember do not wash the parts with soap or disinfectant).
6. Boil all metal or glass syringe parts in boiling de-ionized or distilled water for five minutes.
7. Reassemble while hot.
8. Use a small amount of CLEAN glycerin to lubricate rubbers or seals.
9. After assembly is completed rinse the internal parts three to five times with water greater than 180o F (85C).
10. Allow the syringe to cool for 10 minutes before using.
11. If storing the syringe, place the syringe in a new zip-lock bag and store the syringe in a freezer.
12. Prior to using the syringe after storage, rinse the internal syringe with water greater than 180o F (85C). You can also boil two cups of water in microwave and pull boiled water into syringe three to five times and let syringe cool for five to 10 minutes before using.
Consult your veterinarian on the proper gauge and length of the needle to be used for the vaccine. Always, always use a sharp needle. Change needles every 10 to 15 head, and anytime the needle tip appears burred or gets bumped accidentally on the chute. Never straighten a bent needle. Inject everything in the neck, in the triangular part which is above the spine, ahead of the shoulder, and below the crest. Try not to inject through a soiled area of skin. Avoid giving subcutaneous injections behind the shoulder in the heart- girth area. This is where the “fly shaker” muscle is located so you actually are giving an intramuscular injection.
By following these recommendations, your vaccines will be effective with the least chance of injection site reactions.