Vaccines provide immunity against targeted diseases through antibodies that have been produced or stimulated by the vaccine itself. These antibodies come from an agent that caused the disease you are attempting to neutralize or protect against, possibly a synthetic version. Vaccines are categorized into two main types: live (attenuated or weakened) and dead (inactivated). They are not necessarily curative medicines that heal an existing condition. They are preventative in nature. They protect you from contracting the disease and typically work as antigens. They play a major role in the drug industry and are regarded as one of the most important advances in public health, historically starting with the smallpox vaccine in 1796.
Other vaccine types, separate from but related to live and dead vaccines are:
Conjugate vaccines— Often used to ward off bacterial infections like pneumonia and influenza and particularly effective on children and infants. It combines multiple pathogens to increase the immune response.
Recombinant vaccines— Developed through the recombinant DNA technology via the insertion of genetic material, stimulating an immune response.
Toxoid vaccines— Made from a toxin rendered harmless to issue an immune response.
DNA vaccines— Using DNA codes in the pathogen that is injected into the body.
—Getting back to the two main classifications of vaccines: live and dead vaccines.—
Live Vaccines: Taming “Wild” Bacteria and Viruses…
Why are they live? It’s all about weakening so-called wild bacteria or viruses, so named because they are active disease-carrying entities. The weakening or attenuating is done by culturing these microorganisms in a laboratory. This vaccination is injected into the body where it is recognized as an invader, and the immune response takes place when antibiotics are produced to rise up against it.
Thus armed against the targeted disease, they can fight of the disease pathogens, and a solitary dose might be all you need for life. Examples of live attenuated vaccines include the first for a virus to conquer rabies and for measles and mumps. Despite its effectiveness, there is a slim chance of the still living pathogen to mutate, losing its immunity powers and actually revert to a form that can actually cause the disease it once fought off.
Dead but Deadly to the Invader…
Dead vaccines are pathogens that are basically inactivated or killed before they go into battle. The slayings occur in a variety of ways, including heat, radiation or chemicals. Unlike the staying power of live attenuated vaccines, reinforcement may be required for these dead vaccines via booster shots. Like live vaccines they respond when the disease enters the body as a toxin, bacteria or virus. They don’t last for a lifetime because these vaccines are weaker than attenuated vaccines.
Dead or Alive: What’s the Difference?
Stability— The live attenuated vaccines are more unstable than their dead counterparts, comprised of weakened bacteria or viruses. To maintain their effectiveness they must be stored via refrigeration to ensure they don’t gain strength and mutate into a virulent form.
Strength— Strength is the key advantage for live vaccines due to their powerful immune response. This is why a single dose lasts a lifetime.
Immune System Response—The strength and instability of the live vaccines means they should not be given to people with compromised or damaged immune systems due to the risk of the resurrection of the disease you’re trying to prevent. This includes people undergoing chemotherapy treatments and AIDS patients
Stability—These vaccines are very stable and the risk of mutating dead microbes is minimal. Refrigeration is not required for their storage. Therefore they can be stored without refrigeration.
Strength— The weaker response of the dead vaccine requires an occasional memory refresher for the immune system in the form of booster shots.
Immune System Response— The advantage here is that dead vaccines are 100-percent safe no matter how compromised the immune system of the recipient
Which Vaccinations for What Diseases?
Following are some of the diseases held at bay by live viral and bacterial vaccines:
—Viruses such as rubella, mumps, measles, varicella, polio (oral vaccine) and influenza (nasal spray)
—Bacterial live vaccines also include oral polio vaccine, oral typhoid vaccine and BCG.
—Dead inactivated whole viral vaccines protect against hepatitis A, rabies and influenza.
—Diseases like cholera, typhoid, pertussis, and plague should receive vaccinations of dead inactivated whole bacterial vaccines.