‘PUREVAX RABIES VACCINE SHORTAGE’
Currently there is a nationwide backorder and shortage of the PureVax Rabies Vaccine that we use in our cat patients. This backorder is expected to last at least through the end of May. Our current stock of PureVax Rabies is already depleted, and we are not expected to receive anymore product until at least early June.
There are other rabies vaccines still available on the market, and we always stock a vaccine called Imrab-3 for our dog patients. So why is this Pure Vax Rabies shortage an issue? There is great concern in cats about the risk of tumor formation at sites of inflammation, including some vaccinations. The tumors that form are usually malignant fibrosarcomas that are very difficult, if not impossible, to completely and permanently remove. PureVax Rabies is currently the only rabies vaccine on the market that is not linked to an increased occurrence of these tumors because it is the only non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine available. Note that the risk of a tumor from an adjuvanted vaccine is low, and is currently estimated at 1-2 tumors per 10,000 cats vaccinated. However, if it occurs in your pet it can be devastating. For this reason, we have used PureVax Rabies almost exclusively in cats since July 2007 and feel that this is the safest rabies vaccine available.
So what are the options for your cat in regards to rabies vaccination? There are basically two options, and which one to choose depends on your cat’s lifestyle.
- Your cat can be vaccinated with Imrab-3. This is a highly effective vaccine, but unfortunately is an adjuvanted product, and therefore does carry the (low) risk of vaccine-related tumors. Note that Imrab-3 is the vaccine we currently use in dogs quite safely, and we used it in our cat patients until July 2007. Also note that Imrab-3 boosters are valid for 3 years versus 1 year for PureVax.
- You could consider delaying your cat’s rabies vaccination until PureVax is available again, which we expect to be early June. We would recommend looking at your cats’ lifestyle in making this decision. If your car is outside significantly and potentially exposed to other animals/cats, we would not recommend delaying. If your cat is entirely indoors and not exposed to other animals, then it is not as great a risk to delay the vaccine. If you do decide to delay your cast’s rabies vaccination, then the other decision to make is whether to also delay their Annual Well Pet Exam. Please also keep in mind that rabies vaccinations are required for all cats by Maryland State Law.
If you have any question regarding your cat’s rabies status, and whether/how to vaccinate, please feel free to call our office and discuss the situation with our staff or one of our doctors.