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Mission Protection - Vaccination

Vaccination Some    basic facts

What and how

It is a deffence strategy to ward off deadly diseases. The army is made of antigens or substances that prompt the boby to take immune esponse. These antigens are parts of bacteria or viruses.

Vaccines contain antigens (weakened or dead viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause disease and infection). When introduced into the body, the antigens stimulate the immune system response by instructing B cells to produce antibodies, with assistance from T-cells.

When new antigens enter the body, white blood cells called macrophages engulf them, process the information contained in the antigens, and send it to the T-cells so that an immune system response can be mobilised.

The antibodies are produced to fight the weakened or dead viruses in the vaccine.

The antibodies "practice" on the weakened viruses, preparing the immune system to destroy real and stronger viruses in the future.


  • The earliest documented examples of vaccina tion are from India and China in the 17th century.
  • Smallpox was the first disease people tried to prevent by inoculating themselves with a virus affecting cows – cowpox virus.
  • Powdered scabs of small pox patients were used then.
  • The word ‘vaccination’ (Latin: vacca, meaning cow) was first used by Edward Jenner in 1796.
  • Louis Pasteur furthered the concept through his pioneering work in microbiology, and in 1885, he developed the first vaccine to protect humans against rabies.
  • Toxoids against diphtheria and tetanus were introduced in the early 1900s; vaccine against tuberculosis (TB) came in 1927; polio vaccine in 1955; and vaccines against measles and mumps came in the 1960s.

The Benefits

  • It is estimated to avert over 2 million deaths each year.
  • It is one of the most cost-effective health investments.
  • It is accessible to even the most hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations.
  • It does not require any major lifestyle change. According to World Health Organisation (WHO),
  • Its immunisation campaign (1967-77) eradicated the natural occurrence of smallpox, which earlier threatened 60 per cent of the world’s population.
  • Eradication of poliomyelitis (Polio) is within reach. Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, infections have fallen by 99 per cent, and some five million people have escaped paralysis.
  • Between 1999 and 2003, measles deaths dropped worldwide by almost 40 per cent, and some regions have set a target of eliminating the disease.
  • Maternal and neonatal tetanus will soon vanish from 14 of 57 high-risk countries.

Yet, in 2002, more than 2.1 million people died of diseases preventable by vaccines

The cost of immunising a child In mid-1990s, vaccines to provide “basic” coverage for TB, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and measles cost about US$ 1 per child. Inclusion of vaccines for hepatitis B and Hib raises it to US$ 7-13 per child (not including administration and equipment) in the developing world. So, if we take into account the rising prices, the costs double! With many new vaccines in the pipeline, issues of financing will become even more important.

Commonly used vaccines

There are vaccines against influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken - pox, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, TB, hepatitis, Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib), Yellow fever, and so on.

Vaccines under development

  • Rotavirus diarrhoea, which kills 3-6 lakh children under age five every year;
  • Human papillomavirus, which afflicts some five lakh women each year;
  • Pneumococcal disease, which causes deaths from childhood pneumonia;
  • More effective vaccine against Meningococcal meningitis A (Men A).


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Mission Protection - Vaccination