This issue was a topic for discussion at a recent British Equestrian Federation Council meeting, where there was a presentation on behalf of the Equine Infectious Diseases Advisory Group. It was also on the agenda and discussed at length at our last Risk Management meeting and Sport Committee also.
While we are aware that BRC have reverted back to an annual programme for EI vaccinations, subsequently the British Horseracing Authority have moved to a six-monthly booster requirement, from the previous nine month regime.
The Equine Infectious Diseases Advisory Group continues to strongly endorse and recommend a six-monthly booster protocol and encourage the Olympic Disciplines to maintain a gold standard, in line with FEI regulations. The scientific evidence supports maintaining the current rules. EI vaccines induce measurable antibodies that protect against infection and disease. These decline with time after vaccination and some horses are proven to be less well protected at 12 months versus six months after their booster. Studies by the Animal Health Trust indicate that the vaccine strains become outdated over time, and based on their mathematical models and field data, there are smaller outbreaks with horses that have received six month boosters.
While the reduction in movement of horses over the last 18 months due to Covid has resulted in a lower prevalence of Equine Influenza in the community, there is no room for complacency – and the best protection we can give to our horses is to maintain the current minimum requirement of mandatory annual vaccinations, with a booster within six months (plus 21 days) prior to the horse competing. This remains in line with the FEI, British Dressage and higher-level Pony Club competition.