Vaccines and Vaccination

A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as foreign, destroy it, and "remember" it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters. There are two basic types of vaccines: live attenuated and inactivated. The characteristics of live and inactivated vaccines are different, and these characteristics determine how the vaccine is used. Live attenuated vaccines are produced by modifying a disease-producing (“wild”) virus or bacteria in a laboratory.

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