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Vaccines are an important part of a herd health plan. When used correctly, vaccines can help prevent common endemic livestock diseases, leading to improved animal health, welfare and productivity. Northern beef producers should be aware of the endemic diseases in their region that can be prevented by vaccination.


Immunity is the ability of an animal to withstand a specific disease, infection or toxin (e.g. tetanus and botulism are caused by bacterial toxins).

Immunity is acquired through the animal’s exposure to the disease agent. The major component of an animal’s immune response to an infection or toxin is the antibodies that are created against the particular disease, infection or toxin (note: not all toxins elicit an immune reaction).

Immunity can be acquired actively or passively.

Active immunity occurs when exposure to an infectious agent stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies to that disease. Active immunity can be acquired through natural infection or vaccination. Either way, the antibodies produced by the animal’s immune system will recognise any subsequent introduction of the infectious agent and neutralise it. Active immunity is long-lasting, and sometimes lifelong.

Passive immunity occurs when an animal acquires antibodies to a disease rather than producing them from their own immune system. A newborn calf acquires passive immunity from the dam’s colostrum.

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