Understanding Livestock Vaccines: Conventional vs mRNA

Vaccine

A few months ago, a rumor spread on social media claiming that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology was being used on cattle. However, this turned out to be false information. It’s essential to address such concerns and clarify the basics of vaccines. So, let’s dive into the world of livestock vaccines and understand the differences between conventional and mRNA vaccines.

Conventional Vaccines: Modified-Live Virus and Killed Vaccines

Modified-Live Virus (MLV) Vaccines

MLV vaccines contain a weakened or attenuated form of a live virus. Although these vaccines closely mimic a true infection, they are designed not to cause clinical disease. When administered, the virus replicates within the animal’s system, triggering an immune response and the production of antibodies. If the animal is later exposed to the natural virus, these antibodies fight off the infection. MLV vaccines usually come in two separate bottles that require mixing.

Killed Vaccines

Killed vaccines, on the other hand, contain an inactivated or killed antigen. Since the killed virus cannot replicate in the animal’s system, these vaccines often require a booster dose. The killed vaccine contains more viral antigen or pieces of the virus to ensure sufficient immune system recognition. Typically, killed vaccines are packaged in a single bottle.

mRNA Vaccines: A New Frontier

mRNA vaccines represent a relatively new breakthrough. The COVID-19 vaccine is an example of an mRNA technology vaccine. These vaccines contain genetic material called messenger RNA, which provides instructions for the body to produce a specific protein. Once injected, cells in the muscle receive the mRNA, synthesize the protein, and display it on the cell’s surface. The immune system detects this protein and learns how to mount an immune response against it. In other words, the protein triggers the production of antibodies, teaching the body how to defend itself against the targeted virus.

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It’s worth noting that mRNA vaccines for cattle do exist, and trials have been conducted at research facilities. However, none of these trial vaccines are currently approved by the USDA for use in cattle. Although the potential for mRNA vaccines in livestock is being explored, substantial research and government review and approval are necessary before their availability.

Expert Insights and USDA Approval

To provide further clarity, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) released a statement clarifying the situation:

“There are no current mRNA vaccines licensed for use in beef cattle in the United States. Cattle farmers and ranchers do vaccinate cattle to treat and prevent many diseases, but presently none of these vaccines include mRNA technology.”

Research on mRNA vaccines for livestock has been underway for more than a decade, suggesting that they may become available for use in U.S. cattle in the future. However, thorough research and regulatory approval processes are prerequisites for their adoption. It’s important to note that no mRNA vaccines are currently licensed for cattle use in the U.S. On the other hand, modified-live vaccines containing RNA from viruses like bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), rotavirus, and coronavirus have been licensed and used by U.S. producers.

Regardless of the vaccine technology used, it is crucial to follow the prescribed withdrawal times mentioned on vaccine labels. This ensures that the meat from vaccinated animals remains safe for consumption.

If you have any questions regarding mRNA vaccines compared to traditional vaccines, you can reach out to me at Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.

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Resources: Pfizer.com, NCBA.com