MILWAUKEE — COVID-19 vaccinations of animals will begin next week at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Several different types of animals will receive a shot similar to the Pfizer vaccine that humans have been getting for the better part of a year now.
Senior Staff Veterinarian Dr. Pamela Govett says the COVID-19 risk to animals is very similar to the risk to humans. The decision to immunize the animals comes after a couple scares at the zoo. “We have tested two animals that we thought might have it, that were showing respiratory signs, but so far we’ve been lucky,” says Govett.
Donated by the animal health company Zoetis, the shots will first be given to river otters, primates and large cats, all animals that are thought to be susceptible to the COVID-19 virus. The animals will get their shots in a series of two separated by four weeks, just like humans.
How the animals react the virus and the vaccine depends on their age and immune response. Govett says of the animals at other zoo’s that have been given the vaccine, only a bit of lethargy has been noticed as a side effect.
The vaccinations will start the week of Nov. 15. More, different types of animals at the zoo could also be getting the shot in the weeks and months to come.