A vaccine is a preventative measure to help protect an animal from disease. It is not a treatment (like an antibiotic or a pain killer).

Vaccines stimulate an immune response from the animal’s own immune system.

Vaccines contain proteins known as antigens. The antigen in a vaccine stimulates white blood cells in the body to produce antibodies against a specific disease.  When a vaccinated animal comes into contact with the actual disease-causing microbe, the immune system remembers the antibodies it made when it was exposed to the vaccine and makes those antibodies faster in order to fight off the disease.

Vaccination helps to prevent disease, and therefore some of negative consequences associated with disease.   Vaccination can help with reduced growth rates, abortion, low fertility, reduced milk yield, poorer colostrum, requirement to cull, poor animal welfare and economic loss associated with infectious disease.

Prevention – Vaccination

Cure – Antibiotics, pain killers



Low cost


Healthy animals

Time consuming

Higher productivity


Good farm

Poor welfare

Peace of mind

Widespread disease

Reduces the spread of disease


Getting the best from vaccines

Correct vaccine use is important to gain the most benefit. See below for our top tips for vaccinating effectively:

Sterimatic have also produced some video tips along with Hook Norton vets – see more here.

AHDB Dairy have also produced a great video with more information.

Sheep in filed
Beef calves in field

Vaccinate at the right time 

  • Vaccines do not work immediately; vaccinate before the expected infection pressure 
  • Check the pack insert for administration details. Some vaccines can be given in combination with another vaccine, others must be given separately
  • If relevant, check if the vaccine is licensed for use in pregnancy
  • Avoid vaccinating unhealthy animals or at times of stress. At these times the immune system is compromised, may not respond as well, and the vaccine will not be as effective
 Always read the vaccine label and information sheet  before use

Vaccinate the right amount, in the right place, to the right animals

  • Give the volume of vaccine stated on the pack insert. Smaller volumes will not protect your animals. If using a multi-dose gun calibrate it carefully 
  • Administer the vaccine in the right place; check the pack insert to see if it should be subcutaneous or intramuscular. Ask your vet for help or training if you are unsure 
  • Quarantine and vaccinate replacement stock before introducing them to the main herd to ensure they are protected to the same level as the rest of the herd   
  • Keep vaccination records for all stock. This also acts as a handy reminder for boosters
  • Check the minimum age which can be found on the pack insert

Vaccines should be kept refrigerated at 2-8°C

Vaccine storage

  • Vaccines should be kept refrigerated at 2-8°C and protected from freezing. If vaccines are not stored correctly the proteins can be damaged and they will be ineffective. 
  • Measure the temperature of your fridge to make sure it is working correctly. 
  • Transport your vaccines at 2-8ºC using a cool box or similar, try to get them into the fridge quickly
Vaccines should be kept refrigerated at 2-8°C

Vaccination equipment 

  • Make sure needles and animals are clean and dry to minimise abscesses or infection
  • Clean multi-dose syringes and equipment as indicated. Needle guard and disinfection systems, such as the sterimatic® system, can be useful. Do not use strong disinfectants on vaccinator guns intended to be used for live vaccines as the disinfectant residue can destroy the live constituents
  • Always use the correct type of needle –talk to your vet if you are unsure


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