The American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA) praised Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his decision Oct. 8 to deem some employees at the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) as "excepted," allowing them to return to work during the government shutdown.
CVB, which has been closed over the past week, is responsible for verifying animal vaccines and releasing them into the marketplace, ensuring that veterinarians and farmers have access to the vaccinations they need to keep their flocks and herds healthy. Without a fully functional CVB, these groups would face a dwindling vaccine supply, which could endanger herd health, food safety and public health.
AVMA noted that only the CVB employees who are directly responsible for testing and releasing animal vaccines into the marketplace have been called back to work.
"I would like to express my gratitude to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his thoughtful action in reopening the USDA's Center for Veterinary Biologics, an essential program that helps keep both food animals and the public healthy," AVMA chief executive officer Dr. Ron DeHaven said. "We always emphasize that healthy food starts with healthy animals and allowing veterinarians to have access to critical vaccines is an important preventive measure that must continue even in the midst of the federal government shutdown. I applaud Secretary Vilsack for reevaluating the merits of this program and having the foresight to appreciate its importance to ensuring a safe and affordable food supply for Americans."