Vaccination Aiming for Optimal Immunity 

April is coming and that means time for shots, right?  While there are several core boosters that are annual, if you are looking to provide optimal immunity for your horse, a ‘one and done’ approach may not be the best fit.

Each March, Equine Guelph declares the month as Vaccination Education Month and this year the organization encourages horse owners to consider and learn about “Optimal Immunity.” A good place to start is with the Vaccination Equi-Planner ( an interactive healthcare tool that helps you start the conversation with your veterinarian by exploring what a customized immunization schedule looks like for your horse.

Vaccination Equi-Planner ( considers risk factors for each horse to begin tailoring protection.  Horse owners are asked to complete six questions that help determine individual farm differences and risk factors, including: age, use, sex, exposure to outside horses and geography. This data is then compiled in a program, and a printable customized vaccination schedule is provided for each horse.

Timing is a key consideration for several reasons.  There are seasonal changes that coincide with vector borne diseases.  Of course, anyone considering breeding will need to set up customized immunization schedules for the broodmare and then the foal.  If you own pleasure or competition horses with a trip scheduled, planning ahead will allow vaccines to be given well in advance of the next stressor of travelling.  The length of your show season may necessitate a booster of certain shots to maintain optimal immunity.

“Vaccination is an incredible tool for enhancing a horse’s level of protection against infectious disease.  Zoetis’ portfolio of equine vaccines can be tailored to meet the needs of YOUR horse, with products providing coverage against core and risk-based diseases in a range of convenient formats designed to elicit optimal levels of protection,” says Tamara Quaschnick, DVM, Veterinary Services Manager, Zoetis.  “Your veterinary care team can help you best utilize this tool, ensuring that your horse is getting the right coverage at the right time.”

Infographic can be downloaded at:

Spring is the beginning of more travel for many horses which means protecting those horses against diseases they may encounter.  However, that does not mean one can neglect the stay-at-home horses.  They need protection too, especially if they co-mingle with horses that frequently travel.

 “Vaccination is important but it can’t be the whole disease control program. Vaccination plans must be implemented alongside other infection control and biosecurity practices for best effect,” says infection control expert Dr. Scott Weese.   “It is important for horse owners to work with their veterinarians to design an optimal vaccination. Risk of disease exposure can vary, so the needs, benefits and timing of vaccination can be different, even on neighbouring farms.”

Your veterinarian will be up to date on what diseases are endemic in your location and the areas where you plan to travel.  Be sure to tell them if you are entering events that require proof of vaccination and take note of the timelines stipulated.  Your veterinarian will also advise you on the appropriate vaccines to use as defense.

Disease should always be a concern if you are a horse owner and spring serves as a reminder to check your horses’ vaccination records. Equine Guelph’s Vaccination Equi-Planner (, sponsored by Zoetis, is a useful tool designed for horse owners to generate personalized immunization schedules to discuss with their veterinarian.

Looking to learn more about how to protect your horse?  Mar 20 – 31, 2023 is the next online offering of Sickness Prevention in Horses on

Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions, Equine Guelph

Images:  Available upon request



Vaccination Equi-Planner Free Healthcare tool:

Vaccination infographic: <Embed infographic: >

Dr. Scott Weese video: vaccination is important

Sickness Prevention in Horses online course on

Media Contact:
Jackie Bellamy-Zions
Communications & Administration
Equine Guelph
50 McGilvray Street
Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1