Vaccination FAQs

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Eddie Hooker is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Louisville and at Wright State University. His areas of expertise include emergency medicine, epidemiology, health-services management, and public health.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

How can people become immune (protected)?

Immunity (protection) can occur one of two ways:

  • The first way to become immune is by actually getting the natural disease. For many organisms, this confers immunity for life. When the person is exposed again to the organism, the immune system quickly reestablishes protection.
  • The second way to become immune is through the use of a vaccine. The vaccine interacts with the immune system and creates the same protection as if the person had the natural infections. This is done without being exposed to the risks involved with getting the natural infection.

Are there different types of vaccines?

There are two major categories of vaccines.

  • The first category of vaccine is made from live viruses that have been "attenuated" or weakened so that they do not cause the disease (Table 2). Usually, any symptoms caused by the vaccine is milder than the natural disease. The attenuated viruses elicit a strong immune response as the virus is very close to the virus that causes the disease.
  • The second category of vaccine, inactivated vaccine, is produced by growing the bacterium or virus in culture and then inactivating it (killing it) by using heat or chemicals (Table 3). These vaccines cannot cause the disease, but allow the body to develop immunity. While these vaccines are safer, they do not produce protection as good as that from the live vaccines.
Table 2: Live attenuated vaccines
Measles
Mumps
Rubella
Vaccinia
Varicella
Zoster
Yellow fever
Rotavirus
Intranasal influenza
Oral polio
BCG
Oral typhoid
Table 3: Inactivated (killed) vaccines
Diphtheria
Tetanus
Polio shot
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Rabies
Influenza shot
Pertussis
Acellular pertussis
Human papillomavirus
Anthrax
Typhoid shot
Cholera
Pneumococcus
Meningococcus
Salmonella
Haemophilus influenza type b

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/23/2016

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