A comprehensive vaccination program is an important step in helping livestock owners keep their animals healthy, promote efficient growth and milk production and avoid unnecessary animal suffering. 

As with all tools, vaccines, when used correctly, will have predictable, satisfactory results. However, dollars could be wasted and the herd left vulnerable to a host of diseases if vaccines are not used correctly. Doug Braun, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health, offers these tips for training employees on implementation of vaccination protocols:

  • Help workers understand the “why” in what they are doing. Too often, workers are expected to just “do something” without an explanation of how their jobs impact the success of the operation. With vaccination, the goal is to prevent sick and dead animals. Visual images of these scenarios, when used in the context of training, may be appropriate and useful.
  • Develop protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs). Work with your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive vaccination program for your herd, and then break that program into the steps that have to be performed to deliver it correctly. Be sure to provide all written materials in English and Spanish, and use visuals whenever possible. And after all that work, make sure the information doesn’t just sit in a binder on a shelf. Create posters or laminated cards to which workers have ready access.
  • Use a third party for training. A veterinarian or other hired trainer may offer the advantage of third-party credibility compared to an owner or herdsman. Outside trainers also may provide the benefit of fluent Spanish language skills.
  • Make sure equipment is on hand. Employees only can work with the equipment that is available to them. Develop a regular ordering system so that syringes, needles, coolers, ice packs and other tools they need to do the job correctly are always in stock, clean and ready to be used.
  • Create a routine record-keeping system. It is important to capture vaccination information that includes animal identification, dates and products administered. Whether that information is written on preprinted worksheets, entered into a computer or hand-held device, or recorded in some other fashion, make sure workers understand how to do it, and why it needs to be done.
  • Include post-vaccination steps as part of SOPs. What should be done with leftover product? How should multi-dose syringes be washed and stored? To whom should vaccination records be forwarded? Be sure to cover these topics as well, so workers understand that there are important finishing steps after the last shot is given.

“By working proactively with your employees to ensure accurate vaccination timing and administration, you can make sure your animals are truly receiving the program that was developed for your herd,” Braun said. “A comprehensive vaccination program is a cornerstone of Pfizer Animal Health’s Dairy Wellness Plan™.” For more information, click here.