Collection program gathers up expired vaccine from Sask. farms

CleanFarms and the Canadian Animal Health Institute recently gave Saskatchewan producers the opportunity to dispose of their expired livestock medications.

Tracey Firth, CAHI’s programs director, said these collections have also occurred in Quebec, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.

“Offering a medications return option to the obsolete pesticide collections enables farmers a one-stop opportunity to safely dispose of both medications and pesticides,” she said.

This is the first time CAHI has conducted these collections in Saskatchewan. The success of previous collections led to the adoption of a national program with CleanFarms.

Dr. Dena Shenher, a large animal veterinarian in Melville, Sask., said vaccinations don’t become toxic once they have expired, but producers should still dispose of them.

“You’re not getting the benefit of that vaccine because the purpose is to protect that animal from whatever disease is in that vaccine.”

Expired vaccines don’t trigger an immune system response necessary to fight the illness, she added.

However, Shenher said people still keep expired vaccines, which she attributed to an economic mindset.

“If (farmers) put out a lot of money to purchase (the vaccine) and haven’t used them, they feel obligated to still use it.”

Firth said it is difficult to say exactly how many vaccines have been collected this year, but organizers in Quebec were struck by the age of some of the expired vaccines.

She also said some of the vaccines were imported by producers.

“While it is important to properly dispose of these obsolete or expired products, it is important to acknowledge that CAHI members are providing this service for non-approved product as well as product that they have not sold,” Firth said.

“We encourage farmers to purchase Canadian approved product to support our domestic businesses that are making this program available to them.”

Shenher said farmers who can’t make it to the disposal locations can safely burn expired vaccines or return them vaccines to their vet clinic.

“We can dispose of them with our hazardous materials as well.”

Shenher said vaccines that require a mixture of powder and liquid have an incredibly short shelf life.

“Lots of clients think if they’ve got 10 doses, they can use five today and five tomorrow. Those vaccines are only really good for a few hours.”

She said producers should safely discard these products once they’ve been mixed and used.

Firth said these collections are scheduled every three years.

“For that reason, we encourage farmers to have a secure location to store obsolete or expired products in anticipation of the next collection coming to their province,” she said.

Added Shenher: “It’s good to get a bunch of that stuff out of the population. It’s not really benefitting anybody.”

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