Crazy Pet Anti-Vaxxers Provoke My Canine Lyme Disease Vaccine Envy

Lyme disease vaccine has been available for dogs since the 1990s; humans may get it next year.


Ocskay Mark/Dreamstime

Admittedly it sounds like a spoof or a plot from the TV comedy Portlandia, but the the Brooklyn Paper is reporting that local veterinarians have noticed anti-vax madness has taken hold among Brooklynite hipsters who are refusing to get their dogs and cats inoculated. From the article:

Some Brooklynites are refusing to vaccinate their pets against virulent and potentially deadly illnesses — some of which could spread to humans — thanks to a growing movement against the life-saving inoculations, according to borough veterinarians.

"We do see a higher number of clients who don't want to vaccinate their animals," said Dr. Amy Ford of the Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill. "This may be stemming from the anti-vaccine movement, which people are applying to their pets." …

A Clinton Hill–based veterinarian said she has heard clients suggest the inoculations could give their pups autism, however, echoing the argument of those who oppose vaccinating kids. But even if pooches were susceptible to the condition, their owners probably wouldn't notice, according to the doctor.

Let's say it one more time: Numerous studies have debunked the claim that autism is linked to vaccinations.

Brooklyn anti-vaxxers should be wary of allowing their pets to romp across the fields and dunes in the Hamptons since the number of Lyme disease carrying ticks has exploded on Long Island this summer. The ticks that latch onto dogs can move along to their owners.

The Brooklyn Paper story, however, reminded me pooches do have access to effective vaccinations against Lyme disease while people do not. The one time I was infected from a tick-bite acquired while mowing the grass at my Blue Ridge cabin, I noticed the disease's characteristic bull's-eye rash and immediately got dosed with antibiotics. Looking back, I should have been inoculated with the human version when it was available between 1998 and 2002.

Although there were complaints of adverse reactions, follow-on research found that they were no more frequent or dangerous than those associated with other vaccines. Of course, I didn't know then its manufacturer would decide to withdraw the vaccine in the face of a class action lawsuit motivated by anti-vaccine fearmongering. The suit settled in 2003 and the plaintiffs got no compensation. Since the vaccine was withdrawn, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year. Thanks a lot, anti-vaxxers!

The good news is that the Food and Drug Administration is apparently fast-tracking a new human Lyme disease vaccine from the European biotech company Valneva. It could be approved as early as next year. This time, I won't dilly-dally about getting inoculated.