Don't forget the law
When it comes to administration of rabies vaccines, life gets tricky. Some states require that a veterinarian give the vaccine.
Other states require a physical examination prior to vaccine administration by the veterinarian. Some of these same states
say that requirements aren't needed in the "vaccine clinic" setting. Consumers see this contradiction and increasingly seek
As was recently seen in Oregon, veterinarians are defending their turf on the physical examination as the precursor to the
rabies vaccine. This is a little bit like the Titanic after the crash. Consumers object.
If a veterinary board were to face a legal challenge on the physical-exam mandate prior to vaccine administration or whether
a veterinarian specifically must administer the vaccine (and not a licensed technician working for the veterinarian), we would
expect these mandates to be overturned.
The court mandate would be likely based on three premises: 1) antitrust and unreasonable restraint of trade; 2) consumers'
right and responsibility to select the "level" of care; and 3) the arbitrary nature of these rules.
You can go into Walgreens day or night and get a flu vaccine. There isn't a requirement for an appointment or physical examination.
And the human vaccine reaction rates are higher for these products than what we see with modern rabies vaccines. Children
can go to vaccine clinics, too. A nurse is permitted to administer vaccines in a pediatrician's office. And, most importantly,
consumers notice this disparity.
As pet owners look for value-priced vaccines, the biggest danger to the veterinary profession is the lost opportunity to engage
clients in meaningful discussions about preventive health care and the identification of medical problems before they turn
into a crisis.
The biggest loser in this equation is the pet. In purchasing "value-priced" vaccines, clients don't receive the education
they need to make informed choices about everything from preventive care to serious conditions.
The second loser is the veterinarian because it seems that about 50 percent of pet owners get their three-year vaccines every
third year, period.
The cornerstone to growth and excellent care is client education. Make vaccines accessible, separate the vaccine fees from
the professional services fees, and use this time and this issue to build consumer trust in your recommendations.