Vets are concerned that scepticism about vaccination is creeping over from human health into pet care as new statistics show that 98% of vets have been questioned by their clients on the need for vaccination.
Well-meaning owners may be putting their animals at risk by relying on vaccination information gleaned from websites and social media groups, according to the figures from the British Veterinary Association, released ahead of World Veterinary Day on April 27.
This year’s theme is vaccination and BVA is reminding pet owners of the vital role vaccination plays in protecting the health of animals across the UK.
Of the vets who had been questioned 95% said their clients’ questions were influenced by their own internet research. And 90% of those felt that clients were finding their information about vaccinations mainly from non-veterinary sources.
Commenting on the figures from the Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, BVA junior vice president Daniella Dos Santos said: “Vets always welcome questions from their clients – we need to work together if we want to ensure the best health outcomes for animals. However, it’s concerning that almost every companion animal vet has been questioned on the need for vaccination and that vets feel this is so strongly influenced by what their clients read on non-veterinary websites…
“Vaccination is vital. Pets in the UK have been amazingly well-protected from many terrible diseases such as parvovirus, hepatitis, distemper and leptospirosis, all of which used to be endemic here, through the power of vaccination and ‘herd immunity’. As a vet, it is hugely concerning to consider the future for pets in this country if owners begin to move away from regularly vaccinating.”
Social media sites are starting to address these issues in human health, with Instagram announcing last month that it would block ‘anti-vax’ hashtags in an attempt to stem the sharing of medical misinformation on its platform. But dozens of sites and social media groups dedicated to discussing these theories still remain and 79% of vets say that it has become more common for their clients to question the need for vaccinations.