The vaccination schedule for equine influenza in competition horses has been updated during lockdown according to the British Equestrian Federation, the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
The decision has been made in order to bring clarity to riders, owners and vets and to tackle the logistical challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Under the BEF all disciplines currently require an annual booster every 12 months after an initial course of two injections and the first booster injection. This requirement will remain throughout 2020, which means that any horse who goes beyond their annual renewal date will be required to start again. The initial vaccination intervals for primary and booster vaccinations will also remain in place as normal.
Disciplines who require competition horses to have a six monthly booster injection before competing are to implement a transition period that allows riders to bring vaccinations up to date, once lockdown is lifted. This will be communicated to the members of each governing body in due course, when it becomes clearer when competition activity is able to resume.
The British Horseracing Authority have update their policy from 9 months for booster vaccination requirements to 12 months for all horses racing in the UK in 2020.
Interim BEF Chief Executive Iain Graham commented; “The length of the coronavirus pandemic is unknown but we wanted to provide those who compete with our Member Bodies some clarity on our current position. Equine vets are under strict guidance to carry out emergency work only at present – and as booster vaccinations are classified as routine injections, they will not be carried out.
“We appreciate that some horse owners will fall outside the required 12 month period and will therefore need to start again, which is unfortunate. However, we cannot allow vaccinations to go beyond 12 months as the efficacy of the vaccine cannot be guaranteed beyond that date.
“Each member body will be outlining their six month booster requirements individually ahead of competition restarting. I’d like to thank our colleagues in BEVA and BHA for their collaboration on this so that much of the equine industry is aligned.”