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Vaccination Schedule for Horses: A Comprehensive Overview

Vaccinations not only protect that one horse from potentially serious infections, but they can also help to minimize the spread therefore protecting the other animals in the facility. Our Ocala vets share some key information about vaccinations for horses and offer a basic vaccine schedule as a guide.

The Importance of Routine Vaccinations

Routine vaccinations are a crucial part of protecting your horse against a number of serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Your equine vet will help you to determine the schedule and preventive care needs of your horse based on their breed, age, location and lifestyle.

Vaccinations are used to help create an immune response if your horse is exposed to threats such as viruses and bacteria, with each threat having its own specific vaccine. While there are no vaccines that are 100% effective, vaccines can help to minimize the severity of the illness and reduce the risk of transmission and infection. This protection is at its best when your horse continues receiving all booster shots as recommended.

What is the benefit of equine vaccine programs?

Routine vaccinations are part of a complete preventive care program for horses along with deworming, exercise and nutrition. Your equine vet can help you determine the program that best suits your horse and their specific needs.

Vaccinations are vital for the lifelong health of your horse. The vaccinations and schedule that your horse needs will vary based on a number of different factors. Once your vet has determined a preventive care schedule for your horse you will be able to follow this schedule each year. Your vet will alter the schedule as your horse's lifestyle changes or if routine diagnostics indicate a change is needed.

While a vaccination program is a great option for the protection of your horse against disease and illness, it is best offered in conjunction with other methods of preventing health concerns such as keeping the facilities clean and not over-crowding.

The risk for disease increases with:

  • Stress
  • Parasitic infections
  • Contaminated water
  • Poor control of birds, rodents and pests
  • Movement of vehicles, people, and equipment to and from the property during an outbreak

What are the basic guidelines for a horse vaccination program?

While there is no standard vaccination program as each horse's needs and situation are unique, there are some basic guidelines that can be considered. These are:

  • The horse's risk of infection
  • Potential outcome of the disease
  • How the vaccination is expected to perform
  • Possible side effects of the vaccine
  • The vaccine cost comparison

Core Horse Vaccination Schedule

Here is the standard core vaccination schedule including the tetanus and rabies vaccine for horses. All horses should receive annual booster shots of all core vaccinations.


Eastern / Western Equine Encephalo-myelitis (EEE/WEE): 

3-dose series:

  • 1st dose at 4 to 6 months of age
  • 2nd dose 4 to 6 weeks after the 1st dose
  • 3rd dose at 10 to 12 months of age 

Rabies: 1 or 2-dose series with the 1st dose at 4 to 6 months of age

Tetanus: 3-dose series:

  • 1st dose between 3 to 6 months of age
  • 2nd dose 4 to 6 weeks after the 1st dose
  • 3rd dose at 10 to 12 months of age

West Nile Virus (WNV): 3-dose series:

  • 1st dose at 4 to 6 months of age
  • 2nd dose 4 to 6 weeks after the 1st dose
  • 3rd dose at 10 to 12 months of age

Adult Horses 

*Broodmares should be vaccinated 4-6 weeks prepartum

Eastern / Western Equine Encephalo-myelitis (EEE/WEE): 

2-dose series

  • 2nd dose 4 - 6 weeks after 1st dose

Rabies: Single dose - Annually

Tetanus: 2-dose series

  • 2nd dose 4 - 6 weeks after 1st dose.

West Nile Virus (WNV): 2-dose series

  • 2nd dose 4 - 6 weeks after 1st dose.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding animals or professional advice regarding equine regulations. For the diagnosis of your animal's condition and help to navigate rules governing the care and transportation of equine animals, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned that your horse may have been exposed to an infection or disease? Contact Florida Equine Veterinary Associates to speak with our team about our diagnostic facilities.

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