A new campaign from the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance is to highlight the role vaccines can play in preventing disease and protecting animal health and welfare. The #VaccinesWork campaign will run from early September to the end of October.

A particular focus will highlight the differences in vaccine penetration between farm animal sectors, showing where there may be scope for greater uptake. The campaign will also point out the gains to be made from the correct storage, handling and administration of vaccines.

RUMA points out that the poultry and aquaculture sectors have successfully used vaccines for a number of years in comprehensive and integrated health programmes. Chris Lloyd, secretary general of RUMA, says: “Vaccination is not a ‘silver bullet’ for disease control, but it can be an important part of an infection prevention and control of disease planning process, which all farms should have in place in consultation with their vet.

“In the sheep and cattle sectors, uptake of vaccines is generally low, so the campaign will ask farmers and prescribers to consider whether there is scope to increase levels of vaccination to improve herd or flock immunity, and potentially profitability, on their farms. Vaccination is already much higher in pigs, but improving how vaccines are stored, handled and administered could boost results significantly.”

Mr Lloyd points out that over 50 vaccines are available for cattle and pigs, against a wide range of diseases, and he questions whether farmers are really making the best use of these products.