Vaccines are designed to stimulate the immune system. For the vast majority of animals, vaccines cause mild stimulation that protects them from disease. However, in rare and tragic instances an animal may suffer from an excessive immune system response. This can lead to severe reactions, shock and even death.
There is no doubt that for most animals vaccines do much more good than harm. To put things in perspective, consider my personal experience with animal vaccines. In the last eight years, two of my patients have suffered from vaccine reactions that would have been fatal if I had not intervened (fortunately, I was able to stop the reactions in both cases). In the last seven days, I have seen three unvaccinated dogs die from parvovirus. Vaccines would have prevented those deaths.
Although vaccine reactions are rare, it is very upsetting when they occur. Tonya, your story is heartbreaking.
And, although vaccine reactions are rare, there is no reason for any person to accept a one-size-fits-all vaccination protocol for his or her pet. Every pet has unique vaccination needs. A good vet will be willing to talk to you about your pet’s lifestyle and decide, with you, which vaccines are appropriate for your pet.