What is the Hendra virus vaccine?
The Hendra virus vaccine is called Equivac HeV. It can be used in healthy horses from 4 months of age as an aid in the prevention of disease caused by the Hendra virus.1
How was it developed?
The unprecedented inter-species and geographical spread of the Hendra virus underpinned the need for the development of a safe and effective vaccine.
The vaccine against the Hendra virus was developed through collaboration between the animal health company Zoetis Australia, the national government body for scientific research in Australia CSIRO and the not-for-profit Henry Jackson Foundation.
How frequent is the dosing?
Equivac HeV can be given to horses as young as 4 months of age and requires two doses between three and six weeks apart, an initial 6-month booster followed by annual boosters thereafter.
To understand where the Equivac HeV fits around the other vaccinations your horse requires, the Equine Infectious Diseases Advisory Board have developed an easy to follow vaccination protocol. We recommend you use these guidelines when planning an annual vaccination schedule for your horse.
To calculate your horse's vaccination schedule, try our handy tool here.
What happens if I miss a dose?
The only way to reliably maintain your horses’ immunity to Hendra virus is by closely following the Equivac HeV schedule.
It’s important to note that horses must receive a 6-month booster vaccination before they can start maintaining Hendra virus immunity with simple annual boosters.
Horses that are more than 5 weeks overdue for a booster (either the 6-month or annual booster) will need to have their Equivac HeV vaccinations restarted and will show as unprotected in the Hendra Vaccination Registry. If your horse is overdue for its Equivac HeV vaccination it is important you contact your vet as soon as possible.
If a horse is less than 6 months overdue for a 6-month or annual booster (but correctly received the first two doses 3-6 weeks apart) Equivac HeV vaccinations can be restarted with a single dose. If the horse is more than 6 months overdue for a booster, Hendra vaccinations must be restarted with two doses of Equivac HeV, followed by annual boosters thereafter.
What can I expect after my horse is vaccinated?
Protective antibodies against the Hendra virus develop in vaccinated horses approximately three weeks after the second vaccination.
Studies prove that vaccinated horses showed no signs of Hendra virus or disease when challenged with Hendra virus approximately 6 months after their initial vaccination course.
Once your horse is vaccinated, your horse’s details will be entered into the national Hendra vaccination registry, so his/her vaccination status can be verified if needed.
Are there any side effects?
All medicines, including vaccines, may have side effects including reactions such as pain, a rise in temperature or signs of serious allergy (e.g. skin lumps, difficulty breathing, collapse), but these were NOT seen when the Hendra vaccine was tested.
In clinical tests the only occasional side effects seen when the Hendra vaccine was administered were mild transient swellings in the area of the neck where the vaccine was injected. This swelling was more common after the second injection and completely disappeared without the need for any treatment, within a week of the injection.
What are the precautions for use?
Equivac HeV is for use as a preventative and NOT as a treatment for Hendra virus disease in horses.
Equivac HeV has been found to be safe for administration to pregnant mares. However, in pregnant mares it is important to avoid the use of vaccines during critical stages of pregnancy. For this reason avoid vaccinating during the first 45 days after mating and the last 14 days before the expected date of foaling.
Any adverse events should be reported by your veterinarian to Zoetis Technical Services Helpline: 1800 814 883.
- Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Permit to allow supply and minor use of an AVGET chemical product. Permit number PER13510, version 4. April 2013.