Vaccines are a type of medicine that help prevent infectious diseases by training the body’s immune system to recognize and fight off harmful pathogens like bacteria or viruses. There are several different types of vaccines that work in slightly different ways, each with their own advantages and limitations.
Inactivated or killed vaccines:
These vaccines use viruses or bacteria that have been killed or inactivated, so they can no longer cause disease. Because the pathogen is not active, it can’t replicate and cause illness, but it can still stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. Some examples of inactivated vaccines are the polio vaccine and the hepatitis A vaccine.
Live attenuated vaccines:
These vaccines use weakened versions of viruses or bacteria that can still replicate, but are less virulent or harmful than the actual pathogen. By replicating within the body, these vaccines can elicit a strong and long-lasting immune response. Examples of live attenuated vaccines include the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the yellow fever vaccine.
Subunit, recombinant, or conjugate vaccines:
These vaccines use only specific pieces or subunits of a pathogen to stimulate an immune response. The subunit could be a protein or a piece of the pathogen’s outer coating. Examples of subunit vaccines include the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and the acellular pertussis vaccine.
These vaccines are a new type of vaccine that work by introducing a small piece of genetic material from the virus into the body, which instructs cells to produce a piece of the virus’s protein. This protein then triggers an immune response, teaching the body to recognize and fight the virus. mRNA vaccines have been developed and authorized for use against COVID-19.
These vaccines use a harmless virus or bacteria to deliver a piece of the pathogen’s DNA into the body. This DNA then instructs cells to produce a piece of the virus’s protein, which triggers an immune response. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and the Ebola vaccine are examples of vector vaccines.
Overall, all types of vaccines aim to help the body build immunity against a specific pathogen. The choice of vaccine type depends on several factors, including the type of disease, the age of the person being vaccinated, and the availability of the vaccine. It is important to remember that vaccines are an essential tool in preventing the spread of infectious diseases and keeping people healthy.
10 Fun Facts About Vaccines You Probably Didn’t Know
- The word “vaccine” comes from the Latin word “vacca,” meaning cow. This is because the first vaccine ever developed was for smallpox and used cowpox virus.
- The development of the smallpox vaccine by Edward Jenner in 1796 is considered one of the greatest medical achievements in history.
- During the 19th century, some people in England and the United States believed that smallpox vaccine could turn people into cows or cause other strange side effects.
- In 1955, the first polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. He gave the patent away for free, saying that the vaccine belonged to the people, not to him.
- The measles vaccine was developed in 1963, and by 2000, measles was declared eliminated from the United States. However, in recent years, outbreaks of measles have occurred due to declining vaccination rates.
- According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood vaccines will prevent an estimated 732,000 deaths and 21 million hospitalizations among children born in the United States from 1994-2018.
- Some vaccines are made using eggs, which are used to grow the virus. This is why people with egg allergies are advised to speak to their doctor before getting vaccinated.
- The vaccine needle is actually quite small – typically around 1 inch long and less than a millimeter in diameter. Most people report feeling only a slight pinch when getting vaccinated.
- There is a Guinness World Record for the most vaccines given in 24 hours by a team – it’s 76,000, achieved by a team in India in 2012.
- Some vaccines are designed for animals as well as humans. For example, there are vaccines for pets like dogs and cats, as well as for farm animals like cows and chickens.
Here are some key statistics about vaccines:
- Vaccines have been shown to be one of the most effective public health interventions in history, reducing the incidence of numerous infectious diseases worldwide.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines prevent an estimated 2-3 million deaths per year.
- The introduction of vaccines has led to the eradication of smallpox and the near-elimination of other diseases, such as polio and measles.
- Vaccines are rigorously tested for safety and efficacy before they are approved for use. The testing process typically takes several years and involves large clinical trials.
- Adverse reactions to vaccines are rare, but they can occur. The most common side effects include mild fever, soreness at the injection site, and fatigue.
- Vaccines are recommended for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. The specific vaccines that are recommended vary depending on a person’s age, health status, and other factors.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the development of several new vaccines, including mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as well as vector vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
- Vaccine hesitancy, or the reluctance to receive vaccines, has become a growing concern in recent years. Misinformation and anti-vaccine sentiment have contributed to this trend. However, studies have shown that education and outreach efforts can help to increase vaccine acceptance rates.
Here are some examples of vaccines with their types:
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine: This is a live attenuated vaccine, which means it contains a weakened version of the live virus.
- Influenza (Flu) Vaccine: There are several types of influenza vaccines, including inactivated (killed) vaccines and live attenuated (weakened) vaccines.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine: This is a subunit vaccine, which means it contains only specific parts of the virus.
- Polio Vaccine: There are two types of polio vaccines – inactivated (killed) and live attenuated (weakened) vaccines.
- Hepatitis B Vaccine: This is a subunit vaccine that contains a specific part of the hepatitis B virus.
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine: This is a combination vaccine that protects against three different diseases. It is a subunit vaccine that contains specific parts of the bacteria that cause tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
- Pneumococcal Vaccine: There are several types of pneumococcal vaccines, including conjugate vaccines and polysaccharide vaccines.
- COVID-19 Vaccine: There are currently three types of COVID-19 vaccines – mRNA vaccines, viral vector vaccines, and inactivated or protein subunit vaccines.