Introduction to virus vaccines

The Revised Authoritative Guide To Vaccine Legal Exemptions

Vaccines Have Serious Side Effects

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The term vaccination is derived from the Latin word vacca, meaning cow. This is because the original procedure involved the inoculation of material from cowpox lesions into healthy people. Edward Jenner tried the procedure first in 1796 after he noticed that the faces of most milkmaids were unmarked by pocks; this was because milkmaids rarely contracted smallpox. They did, however, commonly contract cowpox, so Jenner inoculated material from a milkmaid's cowpox lesion into the arm of an 8-year-old boy. Six weeks later the boy was inoculated with material from a smallpox scab; he remained healthy. The immune response against cowpox virus had protected against smallpox virus, the protection resulting from related antigens in the two viruses.

A vaccine, therefore, contains material intended to induce an immune response, and this may involve both B cells (which develop into antibody-producing cells) and T cells (responsible for cell-mediated immunity). Both arms of adaptive immunity can be important for providing protection against a virus infection (Section 9.2.2).

The purpose of most viral vaccines is to induce long-term immunity against the virus by establishing immunological memory that will be triggered if the virus ever invades the body. In order to establish strong immunological memory there is a requirement for vaccines that induce vigorous immune responses; in other words, highly immunogenic virus materials are required.

Effective vaccines are in use to protect against diseases caused by many viruses such as polio, rubella, rabies and foot and mouth disease. This chapter will describe the various categories of virus vaccine that are in medical and veterinary use, and will outline some aspects of their manufacture. Effective vaccines have yet to be developed against many other viruses, including HIV-1, hepatitis C, Ebola and the herpes simplex viruses. Those involved in virus vaccine research face many difficulties, such as multiple antigenic variants of target viruses and the requirements for high standards of safety. Some vaccines that have been developed have not been accepted for widespread use because of safety concerns. The great need for new vaccines has spawned attempts to produce novel categories of vaccine, such as replication-defective viruses, peptide vaccines and DNA vaccines, and some of these will be introduced in this chapter.

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