Equine influenza vaccines

Updated on 09 September 2022

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) relate to the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) supply interruptions of equine influenza vaccines, with a focus on ProteqFlu® and ProteqFlu®TE manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim.

What has caused the interruption in Boehringer Ingelheim’s vaccine supply chain?

Boehringer Ingelheim is experiencing an interruption in their vaccine supply chain due to unexpected data and system integration issues following the implementation of a technology upgrade.

Will the FEI relax the requirements for horses to have been vaccinated within six months (+21 days) to compete?

At its meeting on 8 September, the FEI Board approved a temporary exemption to the FEI Veterinary Regulations in response to the shortage of vaccines in Europe created by supply issues facing Boehringer Ingelheim, a key producer of equine influenza vaccinations.

In the Emergency Board resolution, the FEI decided to extend the booster intervals from six to 12 months in combination with increased disease surveillance and a higher level of general biosecurity.

Currently, Article 1003 of the FEI Veterinary Regulations requires Equine Influenza boosters to be given in the six months (+21 days) leading up to a competition, but not within seven days of arrival at the Event.

The worldwide temporary derogation approved by the FEI Board will be in effect from 1 October 2022 to 1 April 2023. Horses will be eligible to compete at FEI Events with the most recent booster taken within a period of 12 months, but not within seven days of arrival at the Event. All other requirements of Article 1003 must be fulfilled during this period. 

In order to increase disease surveillance during the derogated period, Article 1029.7 of the FEI Veterinary Regulations that concerns the testing of febrile horses for EHV-1, is expanded to also include testing for Equine Influenza.

This is only a temporary solution and the regulations will revert back to the six month booster interval as soon as the vaccine availability is back to normal.

What is the rationale behind this extension?

In their review of the potential impact of the vaccine shortage, the FEI Epidemiology Group found that even a short interruption to vaccine supplies could have a significant impact on several types of sport, breeding and leisure horses.

Horses with the highest risk of developing a disease, including life threatening conditions, are horses aged 0-4 that do not yet have a strong immune defense against Equine Influenza. In particular, equine sectors with young horses, such as breeding and horseracing could face serious horse welfare problems if vaccines are not available to them. Old, retired horses could also be at a high risk.

 

(Source: BEVA/BEF)

The FEI Veterinary Epidemiology Working Group advised that middle-aged equines, like FEI horses that are at least six years old and that have been vaccinated on a regular basis, are considered better protected because of a longer vaccination history.

The Group was in agreement that a temporary extension of the booster intervals would not put the FEI population of horses in danger of developing disease, while making vaccines available to the more high risk equine groups in the short term.

If my FEI competition horse has been vaccinated with ProteqFlu®/ ProteqFlu® Te for V1, am I obliged to vaccinate the horse with ProteqFlu® / ProteqFlu® Te for V2 or V3?

There is no contraindication in the SPCs (product labels) regarding mixing of brands for either the primary course or boosters. However, it is generally recommended that the primary course (V1 and V2) is done with the same brand and spectrum, as no data exist for mixing brands. Please be aware local regulations may apply.

The FEI Veterinary Regulations do not prohibit the use of different brands of vaccines for primary courses and subsequent boosters for horses taking part in FEI competitions. 

How long is this interruption expected to last?

Product availability and supply timelines vary from country to country, and Boehringer Ingelheim has implemented a number of measures to address these delays. While there is progress, disruption to vaccine supply is expected to continue for the next several months across the European Union and Great Britain markets.

The best source of information is your local Boehringer Ingelheim team. If you do not know who to contact, please email ahequineflusupply@boehringer-ingelheim.com and let them know where you are located. The team will put you in touch with your local representative.

Is it possible for companies to increase vaccine production to cover the market?

It takes a significant length of time from the start of the manufacturing process to the moment the vaccine is in the hands of a veterinarian. So this would not address this immediate issue.

Will this affect the ability of my horses to qualify for the 30 day health certificate for horse movement between EU member states?

The FEI has received reassurances from DG Santé of the European Commission that documentation, other than an equine flu vaccination certificate, will be accepted as evidence for at least two visits by a veterinarian in the previous 12 months. In order to be valid, such documentation must be entered into the equine passport by the visiting veterinarian.

What else do I need to be aware of?

Regardless of vaccination status, the FEI reiterates the importance of adhering to biosecurity measures at all times, regardless of your horse’s vaccination status.

Please refer to FEI Biosecurity Hub for further information.