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Low-Cost Vaccine Clinics – What Consumers Need To Know

In tough economic times, we are all saving dollars where we can. It is obvious that our pet’s care can be expensive; so many clients are turning to low-cost clinics for their pet’s vaccination needs. Everyone is aware of these vaccine clinics. They’re usually set up in the parking lot of big box stores, with pets and their owners lined up in assembly line fashion. Pets get their shots, whether they need them or not (we’ll get back to this issue), and owners leave with a very cheap bill. But are these clinics really saving you money? Is it really a veterinarian administering that vaccine?

Recently in Indianapolis, one such low-cost clinic took place. A client took her young, healthy cat to this clinic for vaccination. After visiting the low cost clinic, her cat began pulling out his hair, and developed a large, bruised area at the site of the injections over the shoulder blades. At the time of vaccination, the client noted the vaccine administrator appeared to be drawing vaccines from large multidose vials, or tanks, and also used the same needle and syringe for multiple animals. In addition, an examination of the pet was not performed prior to vaccine administration. The patient has required medical treatment to take care of these problems, at the owner’s expense.

Let me tell you how Noah’s Animal Hospitals provide a different service!

1) A full physical examination is performed by a licensed veterinarian prior to vaccines.

Some veterinarians even believe the physical exam is more important than vaccines every year. Why? Our pet’s bodies change much faster than our own. They grow up faster, and become old faster. A physical exam every year (and twice yearly preferred!) helps us alert you to medical problems you may not have known about. The limp your Labrador developed a couple of months ago? Your veterinarian may detect evidence of arthritis in a knee joint. Your Yorkshire Terrier has developed an occasional cough? The doctor could hear a heart murmur that warrants further investigation to determine if heartworms are present, or whether the heart is becoming enlarged.

2) Use of individually packaged vaccines, and sterile needles and syringes for each vaccine.

Vaccines are manufactured in small, individual single-dose vials, or in large vials that contain as many as 20 doses in the same bottle. Multi-dose vials have a much higher risk of contamination, as the tank is punctured 10 or 20 times, potentially introducing contaminating bacteria or foreign debris into the bottle each time. At Noah’s we use only individual single-dose vaccines. The vaccine vial is punctured only once, with a new and sterile needle and syringe each time. This dramatically decreases the chances that your pet’s vaccine is contaminated when it is injected into their body. We will also NEVER reuse a needle or syringe on your pet.

3) We are available to help you in the case of a vaccine reaction.

Vaccine reactions cannot be predicted or always prevented. However, in the event your pet suffers a reaction to a vaccine we have administered, we will be available to assist you and your pet. If a reaction develops after one of our satellite hospitals has closed, our Noah’s Central facility is open 24/7 to assist you.
We work closely with the company that manufactures our vaccines to ensure your pets receive safe, effective products. Should a reaction develop, it will be reported to the vaccine manufacturer. In some cases, the vaccine company may even reimburse you for the medical expenses incurred due to the reaction!

4) Custom vaccine protocols, developed for each individual pet.

There are many vaccines available, designed to prevent a host of diseases. At Noah’s, we will discuss your pet’s lifestyle with you to determine the optimum vaccine plan for each individual pet. We only administer the vaccines to your pet that the doctor determines are truly necessary. This actually decreases the number and frequency of vaccines your pet receives, cutting down on the potential for vaccine reactions and the risks of over-vaccinating your pet.

5) Location of vaccine administration is important!

Historically, vaccines have been administered in our pets over the shoulder blades. Recent recommendations by the American Animal Hospital Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners are to discontinue this practice. Instead, each vaccine is administered in a designated place on your pet. If a local swelling reaction occurs due to vaccination, our doctors and staff will know to which vaccine your pet reacted. In addition, with the development of vaccine related tumors in cats, our feline vaccines are administered in areas of the body that are easier to treat should a tumor develop.

Lastly, there have been reports that some vaccine clinics do not have a veterinarian on staff at all. In fact, there have been instances where organizers of some low-cost clinics have been prosecuted for impersonating a veterinarian, and practicing veterinary medicine without a license! This is not safe for your pet. At a Noah’s hospital, you can trust that your pet is being cared for by licensed, compassionate professionals. We strive to be partners with you in all aspects of your pet’s healthcare, and hope you understand what sets us apart from these low-cost clinics.

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