What exactly is a vaccine? A vaccine is an injection that is administered to stimulate the body’s immune response to help it fight against infection and disease. There are different types of vaccines. Some are designated to just children, and some are designated to only adults.
Types of Vaccines
There are many different types of vaccines, and each one of them is to help your immune system fight disease and infection. When scientists create a new vaccine, they always consider how the immune system will react to the germs, who might need to be vaccinated against the germ, and the best technique or technology to make the vaccine. Based on the amount of these factors determines how scientists will make the vaccine. There are four main types of vaccine. One, live-attenuated vaccines, inactivated vaccines, toxoid vaccines, subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines.
Live Attenuated Vaccine
Live attenuated vaccines will use an attenuated (weakened) version of the germ that is causing the disease. These vaccines create such a long-lasting immune response because they are so similar to the actual disease that is causing the sickness, that is trying to be prevented. About one to two doses of most live vaccines can give a lifetime of protection against the disease and germ. But live vaccines also have downsides/limitations. So because live vaccines contain a small amount of the weakened live disease some people should talk to their health care provider before taking the vaccine. Like people with weakened immune systems, people with long-term health problems, and people who’ve had an organ transplant. The vaccines also need to be kept cool, so they can't really travel well. This means the vaccine can’t be used in countries with limited refrigerator access. Live vaccines are used to protect the immune system against measles, mumps, rubella, yellow fever, smallpox, chickenpox, and rotavirus.
Inactive vaccines use a killed version of a germ that can cause disease. Inactive vaccines don't generally provide as much protection as live vaccines. Therefore you might need more doses over a period of time to get the ongoing immunity that a live vaccine portrays. Inactive vaccines help fight against hepatitis A, rabies, flu shot, and polio. Polio and the flu vaccine are shot only unlike rabies and the hepatitis A vaccine.
Subunit, Recombinant, Polysaccharide, and Conjugate Vaccines
Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines use specific pieces of the germ. Examples being protein, sugar, and capsid. Because the vaccines only use different pieces of the germ, they may give very strong immune responses that are targeted to key parts of the germ. They can also be used on just about everyone who may need them. Including people with weakened immune systems and long-term health issues. One downside to the vaccine is you may need more doses as time goes on. This vaccine would be used to fight against HIB disease, hepatitis B, HPV, shingles, pneumococcal disease, whooping cough, and meningococcal disease.
A toxoid vaccine uses a toxin made by the germ. It creates immunity to the parts of a germ that caused the disease, instead of the germ itself. This means that the immune response will be targeted to the toxin instead of the whole germ itself. Like a lot of other vaccines, this one may also need to be taken more than once to get ongoing immunity to the disease. This toxoid vaccine is used to protect against diphtheria and tetanus.
Some of the most Important Vaccines
A couple of the more important vaccines are the polio vaccine, MMR vaccine, and the smallpox vaccine. The MMR vaccine is given in two doses to children, to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella. The first vaccine dose is given at twelve to fifteen months. And then the second dose is given at four to six years old. The vaccine is highly effective against measles. Measles is a very highly contagious respiratory disease. The CDC notes that “It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.” The consequences of measles are severe and devastating at times. Having measles can lead to brain swelling (encephalitis) pneumonia and some cases death. Vaccines to treat measles became available in 1963. Measles was declared to be eradicated in the United States in the year 2000, all thanks to widely available and effective immunizations. But more cases were beginning to pop again. In the year 2019, there were around 1,282 cases of measles in the United States, according to the CDC. This was a result of a few factors. The measles vaccine is a waning immunity vaccine, meaning you may need to get an additional booster shot. Which is a shot that supplements the initial vaccine given.
The Tdap vaccine is a vaccine created to protect against three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. All three of these vaccines are potentially deadly and are caused by bacteria. Pertussis, or whooping cough, can be life-threatening to small infants, though it's not as serious for adults. Until the infant is old enough to be vaccinated for pertussis, "infants rely on everyone around them being vaccinated against whooping cough," says Comber. Comber lists the vaccine for pertussis as being especially significant.
The Human papillomavirus, or HPV vaccine, became available in the year 2006. This disease is one of the most commonly transmitted diseases in the U.S., with around 14 million Americans contracting HPV each year. "This vaccine is one of the closest things we have to a cure for cancer," says Hokeness. This vaccine is given in two to three doses to teens and children.
Joe Biden is on his way to making his goal of 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days. A limited supply of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines has hampered the pace of vaccinations. Even that was before extreme winter weather delayed the deliveries of around 6 million doses. But as manufacturing ramps up the United States is on the verge of a supply breakthrough. Now that COVID vaccines are available, some people may be concerned about getting one. A benefit of getting the COVID vaccine is that all the available COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be extremely effective at preventing the sickness. Experts believe if you do get the COVID vaccine and still get COVID it will stop you from getting seriously ill. Experts are still studying to make the COVID-19 vaccine as efficient and effective as possible for the benefit and wellbeing of people who may want to get vaccinated in these intense times. The CDC will further investigate to ensure the effectiveness now that a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized use by FDA.
“Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. “COVID-19 Provider Guidance.” Stay Informed. Stay Healthy., lucascountyhealth.com/covidproviders/.
“Vaccine Types.” Vaccines, www.vaccines.gov/basics/types.
Burry, Madeleine, and Alex Berezow. “5 Of the Most Important Vaccines in History.” Insider, Insider, 28 Nov. 2020, www.insider.com/most-important-vaccines.