CategoryVaccine Safety

Vaccine glossary

Vaccine glossary

When discussing vaccinations with your doctor or your child’s doctor or while researching vaccines your child will need, the terminology can be confusing. This simple guide may help you better understand some of the more troublesome terms used when vaccinations are involved.

Acellular vaccine – A shot that contains a portion of the virus or bacteria that it is meant to prevent in the future.

Active Immunity – The response in which your body produces a life-long defense system against a certain disease.

Adjuvant – A common ingredient added to the medication in a vaccine such as eggs, milk, or gelatin.

Anaphylaxis – An intense allergic reaction that puts the body into a state of shock.

Antibodies – Cells created to defend against the invasion of a disease. Antibodies fight off all future attacks of those diseased germs.

Antigens – Ingredients that create a vaccine’s antibodies.

Antimicrobial agent – Manmade ingredients used in vaccines that in small doses are not rejected by a person’s body.

Vaccine glossary 1

Attenuated vaccine – A shot in which the virus or bacteria have been weakened.

Auto-disable syringe – A shot in which the needle is immediately pushed into the tube after use to prevent harm when the needle is thrown out.

Autoimmunity – When the body creates its own antibodies to prevent a disease.

Bacterial vaccine – A shot created from live bacteria.

Bacterium – The term used when referring to bacteria in a singular tense.

Boosters – Shots that are given after a span of time has elapsed from the time of the first injection. This process ensures the body has built up a defense to that certain disease.

Combination vaccine – A single shot that combines medications to prevent a number of different diseases. (Such as the shot for measles, mumps, and rubella.)

Conjugate vaccines – Shots made from manmade materials that bind to the invading virus or bacteria.

Contraindication – A written warning against giving people with certain medical conditions or allergies that shot.

Disposable syringe – A shot that can be thrown away after use.

DNA vaccine – A shot with antibodies created by altering the original disease’s DNA.

Efficacy rate – The measurement used to declare how effective a vaccine is when used in live studies.

Endemic – A never-ending, low-level presence of a disease in a community.

Epidemic – A growing number of reported cases of a certain disease.

Intramuscular injection – A shot that is injected into the muscle.

Investigational vaccines – Shots full of medicine that are FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved, but that have not undergone all testing.

Jet injector – A needle-free shot that is injected under the skin using a high power blast of air.

Live vaccine – A shot that contains a live version of a potentially deadly virus or bacteria.

Live-vector vaccine – A shot containing medication that causes the body to build up white blood cells in order to kill off the disease that is present in the person’s body.

Pandemic – An outbreak of a disease that covers a huge area.

Parenteral – The process of injecting preventative medication through a vein.

Priming – The first shot in a series of vaccines that is then followed months or years later by a booster.

Safety syringe – A shot that can be taken apart so that it is thrown out safely.

Sterilizable syringe – A shot that is thoroughly washed, sterilized, and reused.

Strain – A specific variety of a general viral or bacterial disease.

Subcutaneous injection – A shot that is given directly under the skin layers.

Adult shingles vaccine

The Herpes Zoster virus causes shingles. The virus creates a painful, itchy rash of blisters that resembles chickenpox in appearance. Shingles is related to chickenpox, but only adults can contract the disease. The rash can range in severity from intense burning to mild soreness.

If you have never had chickenpox, you are not susceptible to Shingles. The virus is most prevalent in adults over the age of sixty who experienced chickenpox during their lifetime. Typically, a case of shingles lasts for three to five weeks.

If you have had recent organ transplant or are immunosuppressed (AIDS, HIV, cancer), Shingles can be deadly. You cannot get Shingles from someone infected with chickenpox, but if you are infected with Shingles, you can pass the Shingles on to anyone with whom you are in contact.

In 2006, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved Zostavax, a vaccine to prevent against a Shingles outbreak. If you are currently infected with Shingles, the vaccine will be useless. It is only administered to adults over the age of sixty who had chickenpox.

Zostavax is given in one dose, injected just under the skin. The vaccine proves to be 50% effective overall, and 64% effective in adults aged 60 and older. The vaccine does contain gelatin and neomycin, so tell your doctor if you are allergic to either ingredient.

Those who received the vaccination and then contracted shingles anyway found the disease lasted only a couple of weeks and the pain and burning were minimal. Side effects are swelling, redness, and pain at the site of the injection.

2006 vaccines approval

In 2006, a number of vaccines received FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval for use in children and/or adults. The vaccines are now available throughout the United States.

One that has been touted in the media is the vaccination for HPV (Human Papillomavirus), a virus linked to cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine became available in June 2006 and is recommended for all girls and women who are or could possibly be sexually active.

Most doctors recommend the vaccine for girls ten and up, though the manufacturer suggests nine and older. The vaccine called Gardasil is given in a series of three injections that are spaced two months apart.

Zostavax is the new vaccine to prevent Herpes Zoster, an infectious virus similar to chickenpox. The disease is present in about 20% of the adult population and causes painful clusters of blisters known as shingles. Currently, the vaccination is approved only for those sixty and older.

The vaccine proves to be 50% effective overall and 64% effective in men and women over then age of 60. All it takes is one vaccination and the disease is prevented. Zostavax will not work in people who already carry the Herpes Zoster virus.

Originally approved in the 1980s, the vaccine for Rotavirus was later withdrawn from the market because it caused a serious bowel disease. A new version of the Rotavirus vaccine is available this year and proves to be a useful weapon against the troublesome virus. Rotavirus is in an intestinal virus that typically hits children in their early childhood.

The virus causes diarrhea that can lead to dehydration. The virus spreads rapidly, especially in school or daycare settings. The FDA has granted the vaccine approval, but testing for correct dosage and side effects are not yet firm. The vaccine will be available this fall.

Yellow fever vaccine

Yellow fever vaccine

Only humans and monkeys can contract Yellow Fever, yet the disease is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Currently, you can only contract Yellow Fever if you travel to South America’s tropical areas or certain regions of Africa (Saharan).

Yellow Fever is a virus that mimics the flu. Common symptoms are fever, headache, nausea, muscle pain, and backache. The symptoms tend to disappear after four days.

In 15% of those infected, the fever reappears and leads to hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever (bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes, and intestines.) If hemorrhagic fever hits, odds are high that the ailing patient will die within ten days. Those who are able to recover count themselves as being very lucky.

Yellow fever vaccine 1

Anyone traveling to South America, Central America, and Africa must receive this vaccination. Be warned that children under six months of age and pregnant women cannot be given the Yellow Fever vaccine, so you will need to either leave your baby at home or delay your trip.

The Yellow Fever vaccine is given in one dose and boosters are necessary every ten years. The vaccine can cause brain encephalitis (swelling of the brain’s outer lining) damage in children less than six months of age; so do not expect your baby to be given the vaccination under any circumstances.

Otherwise, the vaccine is risk free and 95% effective. Less than 5% of those vaccinated every year experience a mild headache or muscle pain where the shot occurred.

What are vaccines?

What are vaccines

To battle deadly and potentially life-threatening diseases, scientists create vaccines/vaccinations that can prevent a virus from causing damage to your organs, blood stream, and muscles. The vaccines include a shot or a series of shots that can be given to a patient by a medical professional.

Vaccines can be used to prevent the spread of disease among children, adults, and the elderly. Vaccinations are especially useful for soldiers and missionaries who often travel to poverty stricken countries where some deadly viruses have not been eradicated.

To give a person a vaccine, the administration site (location on the body where the shot will be given) is sterilized with either an alcohol solution or iodine, the vial of medicine is attached to or placed into a syringe, and then the syringe is tapped to ensure there is no air bubble that can be injected with the medication.

Air bubbles can cause harm to a person if injected into a vein. Normally, a small amount of the vaccine is squirted out of the needle to reduce even a tiny chance of an air bubble.

What are vaccines1

There are five types of vaccinations that are commonly used throughout the world.

These vaccines are

An inactivated vaccine. This type of vaccine uses a dead strain of the virus. The dead virus is injected into a person’s body to create antibodies (cells that remain in the blood stream that can kill off any living virus cells that enter the body.) Polio and Typhoid are two vaccines utilizing dead viral cells.

Live vaccines. Live vaccines are created by using a living, yet weakened, strain of the virus. The virus is too weak to cause an active infection, but it can help the body create antibodies to that specific virus. Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations use live virus cells.

Subunit vaccines use sterilized portions of the virus. The sterilized pieces of the virus are injected into the body to create antibodies. The vaccinations for Hepatitis B and HIB (Haemophilus Influenzae) are subunit vaccines.

Toxoid vaccines take the virus and use chemical measures or alter the genes to create a safe version of the viral cells. Those cells can then be injected to help create antibodies. Diphtheria and tetanus are examples of Toxoid vaccines.

Finally, Naked DNA vaccines create antibodies by injecting a person with a specific strand of the virus’s DNA. The body then attacks that strand creating a defensive antibody for any future infection. Malaria and Dengue Fever are common Naked DNA vaccines.

Varicella or Chicken Pox vaccine

Varicella or Chicken Pox vaccine

Commonly called chickenpox, varicella is a common childhood disease that many adults have had during childhood. In 1995, a vaccine to prevent chicken pox entered the market. Today, the vaccine is highly recommended to parents of children between the ages of twelve and eighteen months. Unvaccinated children reaching the age of thirteen without having contracted chickenpox should have two doses of the vaccine spaced about six weeks apart.

Varicella or chickenpox is a virus that causes itchy red bumps all over the body and can cause a fever. While chickenpox in children is an itchy annoyance, it can be deadly for adults. There is a slim chance that chickenpox (1/10000) can lead to death.

The chance of the disease leading to pneumonia is slightly higher (23/10000). In a typical case of chickenpox, the symptoms can be reduced with calamine lotion and oatmeal baths. Once you have had chickenpox, odds are you will never have it again.

Should you have your child vaccinated for chickenpox? This is a tough question.

Varicella or Chicken Pox vaccine 1

The vaccine has been used for decades in Japan protecting the patient for up to twenty years. Studies in the United States there is no clear evidence that the vaccine will still protect a person after eleven years. When given within a month of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine, the varicella vaccine has proven to be ineffective.

The varicella vaccine is only 85 to 90 percent effective. Some vaccinated children later contracted a mild to moderate case of chickenpox anyway. There is a small risk (0.02%) that a child receiving the vaccination can develop a fever leading to deadly seizures. Typically reactions to the vaccine include swelling at the site of the injection, muscle soreness, and/or a rash.

Of those who have been vaccinated and contracted chickenpox down the road, the disease has been mild and easily managed with anti-itch creams and fever reducers.

Currently, the varicella vaccine is optional. It is up to the parents to choose if they want their child/children vaccinated or not. There are dangers to having the vaccine and there are dangers in not having the vaccine.

Contemplate the natural parents’ experiences with chickenpox, if applicable. Odds are if the parent handled the virus well, the child/children will follow suit.

Typhoid vaccine

Typhoid vaccine

Though not a common vaccination, the vaccine for Typhoid fever is suggested for those traveling to certain countries and to military members. Typhoid Fever is caused by a bacterium called Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi.

The infection is spread be ingesting fecal material. If you eat vegetables or fruit grown in gardens fertilized by infected manure or river water that is contaminated with human waste, you are at risk for Typhoid fever.

Symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, stomach cramps, headache, appetite changes, and weakness. As the infection spreads, it can cause the intestines to rupture. Thirty percent of those infected with Typhoid die.

More people never show symptoms but become carriers who then pass the disease on through their feces, if they are not careful about washing, they can pass the disease on by touching food items.

Unfortunately, Typhi has developed a resistance to conventional antibiotics. The vaccine seems to be the only way to prevent the disease from causing damage to a body. Statistics show that sixteen million people contract Typhoid every year and 600,000 of those people die every year.

The majority of those affected by this disease traveled to Africa or South America and contracted the disease there and spread it to their family members back in the U.S. It is rare that the disease is picked up in the United States.

Typhoid vaccine 1

Typhoid vaccine is given in the form of capsules that are taken for four days. The final dose should be taken at least one week before traveling to foreign countries. A booster is needed every five years. The oral form of the Typhoid vaccine is only available for children ages six and older.

The oral vaccine is proven to be 62% effective, but taking each pill daily is essential. You cannot forget a dose. Side effects of the oral form include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache.

Children younger than six must receive a shot. The shot is given once and then boosters are needed every two years. The shot must be allowed seven days to create immunity to Typhoid. The shot is proven to be 55% effective. The only side effect is pain at the injection site.

Testing vaccines

Testing vaccines

Many people know of the current vaccinations on the market. Those vaccines included MMR (Measles, mumps, and rubella), varicella (chickenpox), tetanus and more. There are many vaccinations that are currently undergoing intense rounds of testing, however. Do you know about those?

In August 2006, China began the first round of testing on a vaccine that will prevent HIV (the virus that causes AIDS.) Forty-nine volunteers were paid approximately $250 to take part in this test.

After receiving the vaccine, the volunteers were checked regularly to ensure they were not having any side effects and that antibodies to HIV had built up in the bloodstream. After 180 days, all forty-nine volunteers had demonstrated no side effects and all showed antibodies against the horrifying disease.

Currently, there are more than one dozen cancer vaccines undergoing their testing rounds. Earlier this year the first vaccine for HPV (a virus linked to cervical cancer) received approval. This is an important step in helping beat cancer. There are far more vaccines yet to be released, however.

Testing vaccines 1

In 2007, a vaccine to prevent prostate cancer could hit the market. Provenge has been tested for effectiveness. Provenge appears capable of eliminating 95% of the abnormal cells that can cause prostate cancer. The vaccine is being tested currently for side effects.

The same company that is working on Provenge has a vaccine for melanoma in the works. Early testing shows the vaccine slows the development of this deadly cancer, but there has been no proof that it can actually stop the disease. The vaccine is being altered and then retesting will occur.

Breast cancer vaccines are hot on the pharmaceutical market. Currently, one company is getting close, but they are looking for additional funding. At the moment, the vaccine slows the development of this cancer by about ten months.

With many more cancer vaccines in the early stages, perhaps some cancerous cells will finally be conquered. In the near future, there may be updates on vaccines for colon cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, and more!

Travel & vaccinations

Travel & vaccinations 1

Traveling to other countries often requires additional vaccinations. While you must have proof that your vaccines are up to date (MMR, Tetanus, Diphtheria, etc.), you may need to be vaccinated against rare diseases. It depends on the country you will be visiting.

If you are going to Mexico, Central America, Trinidad and Tobago, or South America, the vaccine for Yellow Fever is required in most rural areas. Vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, and Typhoid are recommended. It is also urged that you see your health care provider for a prescription for anti-malarial drugs before you leave.

Travelers to Western and Eastern Europe do not need additional vaccinations. However, it is recommended that you receive the vaccine for Hepatitis A and B. If you are going to a warmer area (Spain, Greece) where mosquitoes may be present, you will want a prescription for anti-malarial medication.

When traveling to Africa, it is essential that you receive the vaccination for Yellow Fever. Other vaccinations are suggested, but not required. They include the vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, Meningococcal, Rabies, Typhoid, and polio.

Travel & vaccinations

For gaining entry into the Middle East, proof of polio and meningococcal vaccinations are required. Though not required, Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, and Typhoid vaccines are highly recommended. It is also important to receive anti-malarial pills from your doctor.

Travel to Asia requires no vaccines, but many vaccinations are urged. Hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, Rabies, and Typhoid are among the vaccines currently suggested by health agencies. If you are traveling to an area where mosquitoes are present, anti-malarial pills are also recommended.

Finally, Australia and the South Pacific suggest vaccinations for Japanese encephalitis, Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, and Typhoid. There are no required vaccines though.

While many of these vaccines are not mandatory, you should discuss your travel plans with your doctor. He or she will have up to date information on the current outbreaks in the area to which you are traveling.

Getting your child vaccinated

Getting your child vaccinated

For some parents, the choice to have his or her child is extremely difficult. For other parents, it seems the only path to choose. Either way, it is a personal decision that must be made as soon as the baby enters the world.

There are reasonable arguments both pro and con having a child vaccinated. There are risks to vaccinations. Some children have died after being vaccinated. However, vaccines do work. Potentially harmful viral and bacterial diseases have vanished or dwindled severely as more children are vaccinated.

If you are struggling to decide, there are some things to consider. If your child is allergic to yeast, eggs, alum, latex, MSG, aluminum, lactose, sorbitol, gelatin, and some other substances, some vaccines contain them as ingredients, so you are better off skipping the vaccinations or talking to your child’s pediatrician to find a vaccine that is clear of an possible allergens.

The same goes for children with asthma, cancer, blood disorders, immunosuppression, cerebral palsy, seizures, and other ailments. The vaccinations can cause adverse effects in these children endangering their lives. Again, talk to your child’s pediatrician to see if there is an alternative that will not affect the child. If not, you should skip the vaccine.

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Those who strongly opposed vaccinations often do by saying that the diseases had already started to disappear on their own due to hygienic practices. There is truth to this statement, but the numbers also suggest that the vaccines truly work. When the vaccine for measles was introduced, there were almost 500,000 cases of measles per year.

Within five years, the numbers plummeted to less than 20,000. The same is true for Hib. Since it was put on the market in 1990, the numbers of cases have dropped from 20,000 to 1,400 in a two-year span. In the late 1980s, Russia stopped giving children the diphtheria vaccine. By 1989, the number of cases rose from 800 to 50,000 cases and around 1,700 deaths occurred as a result.

A second fear revolves around the vaccine actually causing the disease it is supposed to prevent. Many vaccines are 98% effective, but there are some people who do not grow the necessary antibodies from the vaccine. In these people, the disease can form. This happens very rarely, less than 1% of the time. There is no proof linking the vaccine to the disease.

It just means the vaccine didn’t work in that particular person. Studies have shown that some common medicines like aspirin and antibiotics will reduce the effectiveness of a vaccination. If someone takes aspirin and then goes for his or her vaccinations, the aspirin can cause the vaccination to fail.

One of the largest concerns is that the vaccination can lead to death. Only in a small number do effects of vaccinations lead beyond the common low-grade fever and swelling/tenderness at the injection site. Giving your child acetaminophen before and after the vaccine can help curb those side effects.

Those who have shown more severe side effects typically have an illness or condition not disclosed to the doctor before hand-allergy, current illness (flu, cold), or physical condition. Even then, only one per every 10,000 to 1,000,000 vaccines ever led to something more serious.

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