The Right Stuff: Vaccines And Disease
The various diseases that threaten us in modern times require specific types of vaccines. Here is a basic run down of the types of vaccines and their appropriate use:
1) Live Vaccine (also attenuated or weakened)—Contains live viruses or bacteria. Live vaccines provoke a strong reaction in the immune system and often offer a lifetime of protection. There is a minute possibility that the microbe, though weakened, may mutate and cause disease. Because of this slight but real possibility, live vaccines aren't given to those with weakened immune systems, for instance cancer patients or those who have HIV. Live vaccines are ideal protection against:
2) Inactivated Vaccine—Contains killed viruses or bacteria. The immune system response is not as strong as with the live vaccine and booster shots may be required. Inactivated vaccines don't pose the risk of causing disease that comes with live vaccines and are thus suitable for those with compromised immune systems. Inactivated vaccines work well against:
3) Subunit Vaccine—These contain only the antigens of the disease-causing microbes. These are the molecules from the microbe that stimulate the immune system's response. This type of vaccine limits the possibility of an adverse reaction to the vaccine, because it contains fewer elements. Subunit vaccines work well against:
*Pertussis (whooping cough)
4) Toxoid Vaccine—Bacteria sometimes give off harmful toxins. A toxoid vaccine contains toxins that have been rendered inactive. Toxoid vaccines are effective against:
5) Conjugate Vaccine—Conjugate vaccines were designed for infants who are vulnerable to a specific type of microbe that hides within sugar molecules in an effort to avoid detection by the immune system. The vaccines combine antigens, toxins, and the sugar molecules associated with specific microbes so as to "teach" the immune system to recognize these elements of an attacking microbe. Conjugate vaccines work against:
*Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
6) DNA Vaccines—Still in the research stages, these vaccines contain the genetic structures of elements of microbes. This vaccine can provoke the body into producing antigens which in turn provoke a response by the immune system. It is hoped these vaccines will produce a strong response without the risks involved with the use of live microbes. In addition, DNA vaccines will be cinch to produce and inexpensive to boot.
7) Recombinant Vector Vaccines—Still being researched, these are believed to be an answer to the prevention of all kinds of diseases. These vaccines use the microbe's transmitters as a vehicle for the introduction of the genetic structure of the disease-producing microbe. These vaccines have the potential to produce a strong response within the immune system, without the introduction of actual microbes.