National foot-and-mouth disease vaccination policy

​Policy Statement

Given the developments in vaccine technology, changing international attitudes and the recent experiences of countries experiencing foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks around the world, Australia no longer views vaccination as a measure of last resort.

Australia will consider the potential role of vaccination as part of the response strategy from the day an incursion of FMD is detected.

The role of vaccination in an FMD response will depend upon the unique nature of each outbreak, and will vary depending on a wide range of factors (e.g. where and when the disease has been introduced, the strain of virus, how long it may have been here, potential for spread, etc.). Therefore Australia will maintain a flexible policy that allows decision-makers to determine the role of vaccination appropriate for each specific outbreak scenario.  Decision-makers acknowledge that the decision to vaccinate will likely need to be taken in the absence of all desired information.

Australia will prepare as though vaccination will be used in the event of an FMD incursion, to allow adequate preparatory measures to be put in place. 

Policy considerations

  1. Vaccination will be considered as one of the potential strategies for disease control on the day an FMD incursion is detected.
  2. The reestablishment of trade for affected industries will be one of the highest priorities of disease response efforts. It is acknowledged that in some scenarios, the decision to vaccinate may allow a return to trade sooner (by reducing the duration of the outbreak) than may have been possible without vaccination.
  3. Vaccination may be useful for a range of purposes during FMD outbreaks including (but not limited to):
    1. Protective vaccination: to protect groups of animal from infection or clinical signs of disease. This can include ring vaccination, targeted vaccination and buffer vaccination strategies.
    2. Suppressive vaccination: to control the spread of FMD within and out of an infected area by vaccinating selected groups of animals
    3. Mass (blanket) vaccination: to protect large numbers of animals over a wide area from infection and clinical signs of disease.
  1. The decision of whether to vaccinate and how to apply vaccination is complex and will depend on many factors including: the nature of the outbreak, epidemiological considerations, logistical and resourcing issues, animal welfare considerations, industry and public attitudes, socio-economic considerations, trade implications, international standards and international experiences with the use of vaccination in previously free countries. Delays in implementing a vaccination strategy may impact on its ability to limit the spread of infection. The Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases (CCEAD) must consider the use of vaccination from day one of a FMD response.
  2. CCEAD will provide the first meeting of the National Management Group (NMG) with advice on the potential role of vaccination as a control strategy, based on what is known about the unique epidemiology of the outbreak at the time. Decision-makers acknowledge that the decision to vaccinate will likely need to be taken in the absence of all desired information. This decision taken should be regularly reviewed.
  3. In the event of a FMD outbreak, the outbreak strain should be typed to assess whether an appropriate antigen is held in the National FMD Vaccine Bank as a matter of urgency. If appropriate vaccine is available, CCEAD will advise NMG to order the constitution and delivery of the full supply of doses of appropriate vaccine from the National FMD Vaccine Bank. This is regardless of whether vaccination is included in the initial emergency response.
  4. If the National FMD Vaccine Bank does not hold an appropriate antigen, or the number of doses of vaccine in the bank is considered insufficient, Animal Health Australia under direction from CCEAD and NMG will seek further supplies of vaccine from other manufacturers and/or international vaccine stockpiles.
  5. Emergency response plans proposing the use of vaccination must include discussion of how vaccine is to be strategically used and how it will be administered to vulnerable populations. In addition consideration should be given to how vaccinated animals are to be managed after the outbreak, including whether they are to be removed from the population or whether they are allowed to live out their commercial lives. Other issues to be addressed include identification and tracing of vaccinated animals, management of products from vaccinated animals, data management, and surveillance, resourcing, training and logistical requirements.
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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