Understanding Vaccination

Vaccination is the practice where a weakened form of a substance that can cause an infection is administered to the body in order for it to produce antibodies to resist such infection. Vaccinations are considered the most effective means of preventing infectious diseases.

Purpose

The purpose of vaccinations is to help the body produce the necessary antibodies that will be able to fight off actual infections caused by certain pathogens. Vaccinations make this possible by introducing into the body a weakened form of the pathogen that the body’s immune system can overcome easily. In the process, the body then produces the antibodies needed that would help it fight off or resist another attack by the same pathogen.

Types of vaccinations

There are several different types of vaccinations. All of them involves introducing to the body a certain pathogen into the immune system in order to evoke an immune response. This can be done in three ways:

Inactivated Vaccine. This type of vaccine consists of virus particles that are being grow in cultures and then killed but with their capsid proteins intact. This allows the destroyed virus unable to replicate but still with the immune system able to recognize it to develop an immune response. A properly inactivated vaccine is not infectious. Booster shots are usually required for this form of vaccine periodically to help reinforce the body’s immune response.

Attenuated Vaccine. In this type of vaccine, live viral particles with lessened ability to infect are used. Such virus particles can reproduce, but at a very slow pace. This allows the body to create antibodies to fight them off. And since the virus can reproduce, slow enough not to become a threat but still enough to present antigens that the immune system can cope up with. This allows lesser booster shots to be administered.

Subunit Vaccine. This is a type of vaccine that introduces an antigen into the immune system without using viral particles. This is usually done by isolating a specific protein from a virus and administering it in the immune system to produce an immune response. Another method used is through a recombinant vaccine, where a certain protein from a pathogen is placed into another virus that presents a lesser risk to humans.