While vaccinations can be administered at any age without negative effects, vaccinating your foal too early will not be successful in mounting an immune response. A vaccination program should commence from three months of age for the best results.
When your foal is born, they inherit disease immunity by consuming an adequate amount of their dam’s colostrum within two hours of birth. For the first three months of life, these colostral antibodies provide immediate and effective immunity from disease.
Any vaccine administered before three months of age will fail to protect your foal as the same colostral antibodies prevent the vaccine from having any lasting effect. As such, you should wait until your foal reaches three months before commencing a vaccination program.
At three months of age, your foal should receive a 2-in-1 vaccine, four weeks apart, to protect them against tetanus and a strangles vaccine two weeks after their first 2-in-1 to completely cover for strangles. Then, at four months of age, it’s highly recommended your foal receives the Hendra virus vaccine, depending on the area where you live.
Vaccination is the simplest method to prevent the onset of diseases that can debilitate your young horse’s health and rapidly spread from horse to horse. While at first, vaccination may seem expensive, the costs are much higher if your horse becomes ill.
Finally, Hendra virus not only poses a high health risk to horses, but also to any human who comes into contact with an infected horse. The consequences can be deadly, and vaccination is the only way to protect your horse, yourself, your family and the general public.