Monday, July 20, 2009

Vaccines - Part 1 - What They Are

A vaccine is a biological product used to stimulate an immune response. This means researchers and manufacturers take a substance that resembles a microorganism and mix it with other ingredients, so it can be swallowed, injected, applied, or inhaled into the body.

The initial substance can either be living or dead, natural or synthetic. Parts of it can be (and usually is) combined with something else, like other types of proteins or DNA, whether human, plant, or animal. The most common of these proteins/DNA are from horses, chickens, and ducks, and occasionally from beef or pork.

Other substances in the vaccine are designed to both provoke the immune system, as well as neutralize allergic responses. They also act as the carrier (the means to get it into the body), and, more importantly, as preservatives to prolong shelf life.

Vaccines have been used since the late 1700's, originally for smallpox, and are now designed for everything from measles and mumps, to cancer, and cocaine addictions.

Vaccines - Part 2 - Types of Vaccines, Part 3 - Ingredients, Part 4 - Side Effects, and Part 5 - What You Can Do.

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