Horse Health

Foal Vaccination

March 3, 2011

These AAEP guidelines will help you make decisions on your foal’s immunizations.

This foal vaccination guide can also be found by going to AAEP.org.

By Dr. Thomas R. Lenz for The American Quarter Horse Journal

In 2010 the American Association of Equine Practitioners revised its vaccination recommendations and expanded the list of core vaccinations that should be administered to every horse in the United States regardless of location or occupation. The core vaccines now include Eastern and Western Encephalitis, tetanus, West Nile virus and rabies.

There is also a list of “risk-based” vaccines that can be given to horses that may be exposed to these diseases, either because of their occupation or the part of the country in which they live. Those include Potomac horse fever, equine influenza (flu), equine herpes virus 1 &4, and strangles. Respiratory diseases like these are especially dangerous for traveling horses and should be vaccinated against.  Your equine veterinarian is your best source of information on risk-based vaccines for your horse.

Can you spot the signs of Potomac horse fever? Do you know how this devastating disease is contracted? Be prepared with AQHA’s FREE Potomac Horse Fever Report. Download and print it out today!

Schedule A (see table) is for foals whose mothers received a vaccine booster four to six weeks prior to foaling. Her high level of colostrum serves to protect the foal for several months, but could also block any vaccine given too early after birth. Schedule B, which can be found by going to AAEP.org, is for foals whose mothers were not boostered prior to foaling and, as a result, their colostrum may contain lower levels of antibodies; these foals will need to be vaccinated at an earlier age.

In addition, research has determined that foals require a series of three vaccinations to provide adequate protection against disease. Also, because there are different types of vaccine on the market for West Nile virus, influenza and strangles, keep in mind that their vaccination schedules will vary depending on the type of vaccine used.

Potomac horse fever is an insect-borne equine disease most contagious in late-summers across North America. If left untreated, this fever can cause laminitis, abortion in mares, or send a horse into shock and ultimately death. Learn more by downloading AQHA’s FREE Potomac Horse Fever Report.