I realized recently that before I knew what a vaccine was, I allowed nurses to give me one. So what is in a vaccine you ask? The American Academy of Pediatrics helps us to understand what is used to make a vaccine. All vaccines contain antigens. Antigens make vaccines work. They prompt the body to create the immune response needed to protect against infection. Antigens come in several forms. The form used in a vaccine is chosen because studies show it is the best way to protect against a particular infection.
There are also different types of vaccines.
Weakened live viruses. They are too weak to cause disease but can still prompt an immune response. Measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus, chickenpox, and one type of influenza vaccine contain weakened live viruses.
Inactivated (or killed) viruses. These viruses cannot cause even a mild form of the disease, but the body still recognizes the virus and creates an immune response to protect itself. The polio, hepatitis A, influenza and rabies vaccines contain inactivated viruses.
Partial viruses. These are made up of the specific part of the dead virus that will prompt a protective immune response. Some vaccines are made this way including the hepatitis B and HPV vaccine.
Partial bacteria. These vaccines work in two ways. First, the Hib, pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines are made using part of the sugar coating (orpolysaccharide) of the bacteria. The vaccine creates immunity against this sugar coating, providing protection against the bacteria. Second, vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) are made by inactivating the protein in the bacteria that causes harm.
How interesting to know the things that go into a vaccine!
So why vaccinate? more to come.