Vaccines might serve the same general function, but this does not mean that they are created in the same way. There are in fact several types of vaccines, each of which instructs an immune system to fight a disease in a certain way. This makes different kinds of vaccines ideal for a variety of different purposes.
The different vaccine categories
In creating different vaccines, scientists will consider things like immune system response, appropriate synthesising technologies and who is to be vaccinated. Below we list the vaccines being produced by classification.
Inactivated vaccines are the result of virulent micro-organisms being destroyed (whether by radiation, heat or chemicals). Because the micro-organisms are destroyed, inactivated vaccines are not as effective as live-culture vaccines and may require boosters in the future for individuals to maintain immunity. Common inactivated vaccines include hepatitis A, influenza, polio and rabies.
Attenuated vaccines use live, active viruses that are cultivated to limit virulent properties or very similar in nature to the disease they are designed to immunise against. As mentioned in the previous point, attenuated vaccines can create a much stronger response because they so similarly replicate the real diseases they are designed to prevent. This stronger response translates to a long-lasting immune response and might only necessitate one or two doses to create lifetime immunity.
Live vaccines are commonly used to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella (with the MMR combined vaccine), rotavirus, smallpox, chickenpox, yellow fever.
Toxoid vaccines are made from inactivated toxic compounds that are produced by the germ that causes a particular disease. This allows the vaccine to create an immunity to the disease inducing part of a germ, rather than the entire germ itself. Toxoid vaccines are commonly used to provide immunity against tetanus and diphtheria.
These vaccines, although different in application, are created by using only specific parts of a germ, such as protein or sugar. In using these very specific parts, these vaccines can create a very strong response from the immune system. As with inactive vaccines, this class of vaccine may require booster shots to maintain immunity. These vaccines are commonly used to treat hepatitis B, whooping cough, meningococcal disease, human papillomavirus, shingles and much more.
The future of vaccines
Although these vaccines have been tried and tested, scientists are nonetheless working on new ways to successfully create vaccines. One notable example is the development of synthetic vaccines created by using synthetic peptides, carbohydrates, or antigens instead of micro-organisms derived from actual germs. We list several more exciting advancements below:
Recombinant Vector combines the composition of one micro-organism and the DNA of another to create immunity against diseases that have complex infection processes, such as Ebola.
DNA vaccination is a highly experimental form of vaccination created from viral or bacterial DNA, that is both very easy to produce and store, as well as cheap to make. DNA vaccination involves the insertion of this DNA into human or animal cells, which in turn triggers an attack by the immune system. Because these cells live for a very long time, they will be remembered and attacked instantly if the pathogen is encountered in the future.
Heterotypic vaccines are pathogens of animals that either do not cause disease or cause mild disease in the organism being treated, with an example being cowpox being used to treat smallpox in humans.
Considering vaccines for the future
Understanding how vaccines are produced and function is a great way to understand pathogens and disease as a whole. For more information about our vaccines, get in touch with Team Med today, or browse our great range of affordable vaccines today.