Mare and Foal Vaccination Schedule

Ken Marcella, D.V.M.

Most vaccination schedules are determined by the amount of contact exposure that individual horses face. This is the amount of risk they are under because of the number and health history of the horses they are likely to come into contact with. More horse contact carries greater risk and requires more frequent vaccination.

The following recommendations are for horses kept in a well-managed situation with moderate to low contact risk. The recommendations for foal vaccinations also assume that the mare has had proper pre-foaling vaccinations.

Recent research shows that modern vaccines produce such high levels of maternal immunity that vaccinating colts too soon does not stimulate appropriate immune reactions. The current suggestion is to vaccinate young horses at four to five months of age, with revaccination in three to four weeks, for full response. These weanlings are usually vaccinated again in the late fall (if foaled early) or in the early spring (if foaled late).

Mare vaccinations

These should be given prior to breeding (usually in the spring):

Eastern and Western Encephalitis
Strangles (Intranasal)
West Nile

These should be given post breeding:

Rhinopneumonitis (killed vaccine) at five, seven and nine months of gestation

Regular fall vaccinations:

Eastern and Western Encephalitis
West Nile (if indicated in specific geographical regions or if indicated by a high number of local cases)
Tetanus (usually given to the mare at 30-45 days prior to foaling date).

Foal vaccinations

Given at four to five months of age, provided the mare was correctly vaccinated and the foal received adequate colostrum. If no mare vaccination, foal is given tetanus and tetanus antitoxin at birth and vaccines are given at three months of age.

Eastern and Western Encephalitis
West Nile
Intranasal Pinnacle (Strangles)

These vaccinations should be repeated in three weeks to boost initial immunity. Some owners like to separate out these vaccines and do them in two sessions so the foal does not have to take so many injections at one time. This staggered approach may lessen adverse reactions in some horses prone to such a response.

Many drug companies offer combinations of these vaccinations, however, so the animal does not have to be injected too many times. Consult your veterinarian and design the vaccination program that is right for you and your horses.

Kenneth Marcella, D.V.M., is based at the Chattahoochee Equine Center in Canton, Ga.

1997-2005 Southern States Cooperative, Inc., Reprinted from Mane Points magazine, with permission of Southern States Cooperative, Inc.
2004-2012 Horse Tack Review

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