Zoom in on microorganisms

Production of vaccines

Influenza vaccineZoomZoom
© Barbara Bélanger, Armand-Frappier Museum

The vaccine: a harmless copy

Vaccines are used with the intention of showing our immune system a harmless copy of a microbe. When the real microbe tries to infect us, our immune system will rapidly recognize it and prevent it from reproducing. As the number of immunized people increases, the microbe has less opportunity to spread and an epidemic can be prevented.

Babies are naturally protected against many diseases, thanks to the antibodies that they receive from their mother at birth. Unfortunately, this protection is temporary and disappears during the first year of life. Vaccination therefore provides a new and solid immunity against certain diseases.

Vaccines can be produced in different ways. They can be constituted from microbes that are alive but attenuated, which then produce benign or asymptomatic diseases, from microbes similar to those causing a disease, from dead microbes, from certain parts of a microbe, or even from the DNA of the harmful microbe. In certain cases, it is even possible to produce vaccines in eggs, as is the case for the flu vaccine (Preventing the flu: from the egg to the vaccine, the title of the 8 mm video involving the participation of BioChem Parma).