Vaccination is an important tool, alongside good biosecurity practices, for protecting the health and welfare of our horses and controlling and preventing the spread of infectious disease. Vaccines work by triggering the immune system so that it is ready to fight off any natural disease that might be encountered in the future. Vaccination not only protects the individual that has been vaccinated but when enough of the population is vaccinated it also reduces the spread of infectious disease at a population level and helps protect those without immunity that are most vulnerable. Core vaccines recommended for all horses in the UK include tetanus and equine influenza. Tetanus is caused by bacteria in the soil gaining entry into the body through cuts and wounds and, although it is not contagious and therefore not transmissible between horses, it is often fatal and vaccination is highly effective at protecting against the disease. Equine influenza is rarely fatal but it is highly contagious and in the right conditions it can spread up to 5km so even if a horse does not travel or compete it may still be at risk of catching and transmitting equine influenza.
There are also vaccines licensed for other infectious diseases such as herpesvirus, strangles and rotavirus. Vaccine requirements and schedules should be discussed with your vet so that diseases covered and vaccination intervals are appropriate for the level of likely risk that your horse faces.