VCA Northwest Hills Animal Hospital

Immunizations

How do vaccines work?
Vaccines work by stimulating the body's immune system to produce antibodies to a particular microorganism such as a virus, bacteria, or other infectious organism. The animal's immune system is then primed, or prepared to react to a future infection with that microorganism.

"This reaction will either prevent infection or lessen the severity of infection and promote rapid recovery."
This reaction will either prevent infection or lessen the severity of infection and promote rapid recovery. In other words, vaccination mimics or simulates the protection (immunity) that a pet has once it has recovered from natural infection with a particular infectious agent.

The immune system is complex, involving interaction of various cells and tissues in an animal. The main cells involved in an immune reaction are the white blood cells and the main tissues are the lymphoid tissues such as the lymph nodes.

One of the most important functions of the immune system is the production of specific protein molecules called antibodies. A specific microorganism, such as Feline Panleukopenia Virus, has components called antigens. When a foreign antigen is introduced into the body, the immune system will produce an antibody that specifically binds and neutralizes that specific antigen and no other. The body produces several different types of antibodies.

Other white blood cells such as lymphocytes are able to identify and kill cells that have become infected by the microorganism. This activity of lymphocytes and other immune system cells is called cell-mediated immunity.

After vaccination, just as after recovery from natural infection, the body 'remembers' the specific antigens so that when they are encountered again it can mount a rapid and strong immune response, preventing the cat from developing the disease. The duration of this response varies with the disease, the type of vaccine and other variables. The likely duration will determine the recommended revaccination date.

"...most vaccines work by preventing your pet from becoming ill during a subsequent exposure to specific disease-causing organisms..."
It is important to realize that most vaccines work by preventing your pet from becoming ill during a subsequent exposure to specific disease-causing organisms, but vaccination may not prevent the pet from becoming infected. 

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:

 

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.

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