A shortage of essential vaccines is causing severe difficulties for both livestock farmers and vets.

Restricted supplies of leptospirosis vaccines has been reported recently in many parts of the country, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) claimed.

This follows similar problems with salmonella and scour vaccines through the winter.

And well-known Galway-based vet Conor Geraghty admitted that practices were “panic buying” large volumes of vaccines in order to secure supplies.

ICMSA president Denis Drennan said vets in the southeast were urging their farmer clients to outline how many doses of leptospirosis vaccines they will require as stocks were tight at wholesale level and practices wanted to secure sufficient supplies.

Drennan pointed out that dairy farmers traditionally vaccinated for leptospirosis in April, usually three weeks before they started breeding.


Securing an ample supply of vaccines was becoming a lottery for many dairy farmers, the ICMSA leader said.

“I normally vaccinate the cows for salmonella in September, but this year I didn’t do the last of the cows until February,” Drennan explained.

He had to “beg and borrow” vaccines to get the cows done, he maintained.

“The cows are supposed to get their salmonella vaccine booster every 12 months, but it was 17 months this year,” Drennan said.

“Now there is shortages of lepto vaccines, and some of the scour vaccines weren’t available in January. The vaccine supply situation needs to be sorted out,” he said.

Drennan pointed out that farmers were being encouraged to reduce antibiotic usage in order to tackle the rise antimicrobial resistance.

“The best way to reduce antibiotic usage is through increased vaccination – prevention rather than cure – but the vaccines must be available to farmers,” Drennan said.

The ICMSA leader called on the animal health industry to explain why there is a shortage of vaccines and to outline a plan to sort the issues out.

Panic buy

Meanwhile, Mountbellew-based vet Conor Geraghty said veterinary practices were being forced to "forward buy and panic buy" vaccines in big quantities in order to ensure supplies for their farmer clients.

“If a rumour goes out that a particular vaccine is in short supply, then every wholesaler in the country will be sold out within 12 hours,” Geraghty claimed.

He said buying vaccine supplies for a month at a time – which was the norm in the past – was no longer an option.

“Vaccine shortages have been an ongoing issue for the last four or five years. The supply situation is no longer as fluid as it was,” Geraghty explained.

He said the problems had been exacerbated by Brexit, as getting stocks in from Northern Ireland was no longer an option since the UK left the EU.

Geraghty said the tightened availability of vaccines has put added financial and logistical pressure on veterinary practices since they had to forward buy more stock, and provide the refrigerated capacity to hold the vaccines for up to 12 months.

“It’s a huge issue for vets. We’re at the end of the supply chain with the farmer,” he said.