Vaccinating against FIV
Here in the UK there is currently no vaccine against FIV, but there is one in the USA.
The FIV vaccine (the Fort Dodge vaccine) is not registered in the UK. As far as we are aware it is only available in the USA, Canada and Australia. The makers claim that it is 85% effective (which is better than nothing), but reports say that against some strains of FIV, it is far less effective. (In the UK there is only one strain of FIV, but in other parts of the world there are several)
Vets in the US apparently vary in their opinions, but most who know about FIV are not too keen to give it for a number of reasons, mainly due to the fact that a cat vaccinated against FIV will thereafter test positive with the ELISA test, as well as the IFA and Western blot.
Those who choose to vaccinate would be wise, in our opinion, to microchip as well, so if the worst happened and they ended up in a shelter, there is a good chance that you will get them back intact.
The University of Florida has worked on a project to produce a new test, which will differentiate between a cat vaccinated against FIV and one with the virus, but we have not heard of any results of that project. It will be interesting to see whether what they come up with might replace the elisa snap test.
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Vaccinating FIV cats against other viruses
Here in the UK it is normal to vaccinate cats against Enteritis, calicivirus, herpesvirus, and usually FeLV (Feline leukaemia), but all are voluntary.
In other parts of the world there are other vaccines, some of which are required to be given by law.
There are different views about the wisdom of giving these vaccinations to an FIV cat, and particularly in question are the annual boosters that are usually recommended.
There is a view that an FIV cat will be put at greater risk whenever it has to deal with an infection - when its immune system is put under strain. By giving vaccinations, the cat has to use its immune system to raise a response, which can increase the amount of virus in the system - so should you vaccinate? There are different opinions, so you need to discuss it with your vet before deciding.
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