Equine Vaccination: What, When, and Why?

It’s spring and the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the foals are frolicking. Less visibly, but just as importantly, mosquitoes are hatching, Clostridium tetani spores are lying in wait in soil, manure, and on that old, rusty fence wire, and a confused-looking and possibly rabid raccoon just wandered through the paddock in the middle of the afternoon. While springtime brings warmth, new life, and equine activities, it also increases preventable disease risks. Regular, strategic vaccination is a safe, effective method to greatly minimize the chances of deadly diseases impacting your herd.

The AAEP recommends all horses receive core vaccinations that “protect against diseases that are endemic to a region, are virulent/highly contagious, pose a risk of severe disease, those having potential public health significance, and/ or are required by law.” These include:


This is a frequently fatal neurologic disease caused by C. tetani bacteria. It is not contagious—a sick horse cannot infect another—but C. tetani is present in the intestines of horses and other animals. The spores are resistant to heat and can survive in the environment for many years, making exposure a constant

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