Six-monthly flu jab exemptions for horses who suffer severe reactions

  • Horses who have experienced a severe adverse reaction to the equine flu vaccination may be eligible for exemption from the six-monthly booster requirement in a new British Dressage (BD) scheme.

    The move comes following concerns raised by members about the 2020 rule revision introducing a six-monthly vaccine requirement.

    A spokesman for BD said the board had agreed and released a process allowing members to apply for dispensation to the rule.

    “Following the introduction of the requirement of a vaccine booster within six months + 21 days, a number of members made contact to request a process to apply for exemption,” he said.

    “It was reviewed and agreed in the best interests of equine welfare by the board. Members whose horses have experienced severe reactions (laminitis, neurological issues, off work for a week or more) may now apply for an exemption.”

    A dispensation panel, which will consider each application, comprises four specialists: British Equestrian Federation (BEF) director of equine sports science and medicine John McEwen, FEI veterinary committee chairman Jenny Hall, BEF director Jane Nixon MRCVS and European specialist in equine internal medicine Philip Ivens, of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

    Applying for the dispensation costs £50 and owners must complete an application form along with their own vet’s signature. If granted, it lasts for 12 months and must be re-applied for annually.

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    “The panel will meet in April and October each year. However as this is a new initiative, the panel will meet as soon as an adequate number of applications are received,” said the spokesman.

    In a BD “ask the expert” online session on 4 December Dr Nixon said horses must have had the primary course of vaccinations and that even those granted dispensation must still be vaccinated annually.

    “That is without question,” she said. “Between us, we would look carefully on welfare grounds at each individual situation as to whether or not you will be given dispensation for the six-monthly rule. We take this very seriously indeed and every case will be looked at according to the application.”

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